Thursday, 27 February 2014


N Gauge Allotments taking shape

Cor, am I glad to see the back of a lot of editorial work that has kept me away from the workbench for much of the past few months. I expect that it's common knowledge that Model Rail's editor of the past 8 years, Ben Jones, has left for pastures new (Good luck, mate!). As a result, I've had quite a bit of desk-bound work to get through, especially since Christmas, with the production of a special publication - more details of which will be revealed soon.

Anyway, I'm happily back at the workbench after a week up in Scotland, with a few practical projects now underway. In particular, I'm  trying to get through a backlog of kits and bits that need assembling, painting or testing for the review pages. One thing that has been lying around for a while (for which I must apologise) is this lovely set of 'N' gauge modular allotment scenes from Timecast Models. I've been wanting to get these finished for some time so it's nice to see them making progress.

The 8 individual sections, cast in a tough resin -  can be arranged to suit your location and I've simply fixed them to a sheet of thick card with PVA. When dry, the small gaps in between have been filled with ready-mixed DIY plaster. A damp brush helps get the plaster into the gaps and blends it with the surface of the castings, removing the need for any sanding when it dries. I'm just about to start painting the scene before adding foliage and scatters, etc. The scene is destined for a corner of a little 'N' gauge layout that I've been working on for a while.

The 'plots' are also available in 'OO' gauge and in painted or unpainted format. The detail on the castings is impressive, especially around the sheds and assorted clutter, so typical of real allotments. I've used some of different Timecast allotments in the past, which can be viewed HERE. Look out for a full review in Model Rail mag soon and I'll post some finished pics here when they're ready.

As for the Glasgow show last week, it was really good fun, with some cracking layouts, especially Elliot Bridge - I could have stood and watched that running all day! It was good to meet so many readers over the three days and have a good chinwag with some familiar faces. Model Rail Scotland is always a show that I look forward to, not least for the exhibits, but the friendly atmosphere and the great city of Glasgow (always manage a few nights on the town!). I even saw Beyonce arrive at the nearby Hydro arena for her two gigs - by helicopter, natch. It's not really my type of music, but hey, I wouldn't have minded watching the show... And, it may not be in the same league as Beyonce, but I also saw DRS' new Class 68 68002 at Carlisle. Wow!

Friday, 14 February 2014


A few old kits have been dug out from the attic

I've said before - on numerous occasions on this Blog and in my various kit building books - how much I love the old Airfix wagon kits from the 1960s-70s. I promise not to bore anyone further, although I'm just starting work on a future Model Rail magazine article on just this subject!! Well, it's more about getting the best from these kits that are now in the Dapol range. While searching out my stash of unbuilt kits, I came across these 16ton mineral wagon kits that I assembled nearly 10 years ago. 

They've been modified in a number of ways, especially around the underframes, both being upgraded with different types of vacuum brake gear, making them look at home in an early-1980s setting. Although I can't remember the exact parts used, I seem to think that most of them were left over from Parkside kits, with some bits from Mainly Trains and Dart Castings (buffers) too, along with a few bits of old guitar strings.

Considering that these kits were made before I was born (which is a long time ago!), they look great, with impressive moulded relief. Apart from removing the huge working hinges on the side doors, I haven't modified the bodies much at all.  

Looking underneath: note the different brake arrangement and telltale signs of the use of guitar strings - the cross shaft of the wagon on the right looks distinctly 'ripply'!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Connoisseur Kits coach kit joins the queue

I've had my eye on several 7mm scale wagon and coach kits in the Connoisseur Kits range for some time. However, until working on an Ixion Hudswell, Clarke 0-6-0ST a few weeks back, I couldn't really see when I'd get around to having a working 'O' gauge layout on which to run any stock. Now that plans are afoot, I thought I may as well take the plunge and opted for a 4wheel ex-NER composite carriage that will look at home on any generic light railway.

Obviously, being mostly a 4mm scale modeller, this kit looks big in comparison - and fairly weighty, too, being all-metal. The etched brass and whitemetal castings look extremely well rendered and I can't wait to get building. Just a shame that it'll have to wait a couple of months until I can slot it into my schedule. Hopefully, by then, the mini layout will be up and running...?