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?

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Ore wagons prove the perfect test bed for new weathering products

Using some little pots of acrylic medium, some rather dramatic rust effects have been created on a pair of OO gauge iron ore tipplers. The wagons, from Hornby and Bachmann, have been used as a proving ground for some new (to me at least!) techniques and products, namely AK Interactive's 'Worn Effects' and 'Heavy Chipping'. These are acrylic-based fluids that are sprayed onto the surface before applying the livery coats. Having covered the wagon in an approximation of a rusty finish at the outset, the livery - in this case BR grey - is then wetted and removed as desired.

Anything from a few peeling patches to a heavily corroded surface can be achieved and further weathering with paints and powders further refines the overall effect.

As with anything, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of things and to appreciate how the two fluids behave. But, after these first two ventures, I'm really impressed by the possibilities. Indeed, I can see me using this method a lot in future, so look out for a demo in Model Rail magazine in the near future.

By the way, AK Interactive products are available from most model shops, especially those dealing in military or aircraft kits, or Model Hobbies.

Monday, 2 September 2013


This month's Model Rail contains exclusive free kit

On sale this week, Model Rail issue 187 carries a number of articles on signal boxes and how to model them. Included is my re-cladding and detail upgrade of the Metcalfe Models kit previously mentioned on this Blog, along with a host of other features. Also, for every reader there is a free download of this print-your-own card kit of a BR Modernisation Plan era signal box. All you need to do is print off the electronic file from the Smart Models website and back the components with the correct grade of card. Full instructions are provided with the kit and Model Rail 187 also offers a number of tips for getting the best from card kits.

I built my kit over a number of evenings and it proved jolly good fun. Smart Models include some innovative design features, not least a fully detailed interior, but also in how the exterior corner joints are made. Instead of being faced with exposed white paper at the edges, like most card kits, the components provide wrap-around printed detail that renders the joints virtually invisible - great stuff indeed!

As with all card kits, they're easy to customise and you can make up your own name boards by typing in the desired location before printing out the sheets. For convenience and speed (including meeting press deadlines!), I omitted a few steps - literally... To avoid the need for painting, the access stairway is intended to be made up of individual strips of thick card, wrapped in printed paper overlays. But, this seemed to take an age, so I just added the bare card steps and, when the glue had set, painted them with acrylic paint. When this too had dried, some weathering powders gave them an authentic dusty concrete appearance.

The handrails are also designed into the kit to be cut from card, but strips of Evergreen 40x60thou' plastic strip seemed an easier option, with 20x80thou' for the bannisters. Again, these were painted and weathered to finish.

So, check out the latest Model Rail (on shelves from Thursday 5th September) for the full lowdown on this free kit and some handy tips on getting your signal boxes looking tip top...