Monday, 29 September 2014


Weathering demo subjects cleaned and packed away for next classes

As I mentioned a little while back, I've not long finished teaching another set of courses on airbrushing and weathering down on the South Coast. However, I've only just got around to sorting out my boxes of materials and model samples, now all organised and ready for the next series of classes in March 2015. Just before sealing the crates, I thought I'd grab a few images of two of the locos that have been treated in previous classes and which I use to illustrate the possibilities of certain materials and techniques.

The Bachmann Class 25 has been demonstrated on a number of times, with quite a range of paints and washes and, despite being knocked about a bit still looks presentable. The green livery has been given a range of high- and low-lights using different shades of BR green to give something of a washed-ot look beneath the layers of grime.

The old Hornby GWR 0-6-0T has also been employed on many occasions over the past few years, again with a variety of materials and techniques visited upon it, including textured acrylics, T-Cut and mechanised buffing! The last thing I did to it was spray areas with gloss varnish to soften some of the dirt deposits and give it more of an oily sheen, especially on the tanks and dome (the Class 24 was treated in a similar way). For a fairly basic model, it now looks a bit more lifelike.

I believe that my courses for March are all but booked-up, but I'm hoping to set some more dates for autumn 2015. Check The Airbrush Co. website for more details.

I really ought to finish both models off at some point and add them to my traction fleets....

Friday, 26 September 2014


Another 50ft LMS observation saloon photo found in the archives

Having unearthed images of an LMS 50ft saloon for a previous post, I've just come across another pic of a similar vehicle. Pictured at the Railway Age, Crewe in either 2004 or 2005, DB999501 still wears the remnants of BR InterCity colours and had been based at Preston prior to withdrawal and preservation. Outwardly, it looks very similar to the LMS-liveried 45030 in the previous Blog post, although the side windows have been modified. My notes at the time say "double glazed?" but I'm not sure about this - there are pronounced frames around each aperture which looks like a later modification, although it may just have been a repair of some sort. Mind you, I have a feeling that this vehicle had been used up in the Scottish Highlands in the 1980s, so maybe it had been given some form of extra insulation...? I'll have to have a dig about for more info on this, if I get a spare few hours....!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


A selection of prototype images

The latest issue of Model Rail goes on sale this week and readers will note my article on improving the new Bachmann 50ft LMS observation saloon. During my research for this - and the original review of the model a few months ago - I dug out a stack of photographs that I took of the real 45030, languishing in the South Yard of the National Railway Museum in York. I was working there at the time and the saloon had just appeared in the yard, having been in use as a static office at Leeman Road since withdrawal in 1993. Decked out in replica LMS livery, but with standard yellow ends, the interior had been upgraded by BR sometime in the 1970s (I'm guessing!), with some pretty foul orangey carpets that were in vogue at that time.

Anyway, the photos weren't good enough to be published in the mag, being taken on a very cheap and nasty 35mm pocket camera. They date from Spring 2003 and show the saloon in a bit of a state. A couple of homeless folk had been living in it, who had kicked in one of the doors and generally trashed the interior, leaving lots of empty whisky bottles and other debris. At the time, I did think how the vehicle would make a jolly nice holiday home, akin to a camping coach. With a kitchen/galley, toilet compartment and two spacious saloons, there was plenty of room. Couple it up to a Class 25 or similar, and away you go... what a way to see the country...?!
Guard's compartment with handbrake wheel and air brake valve on the wall.

Other side of Guard's compartment, with comfy, sprung bench seat and luggage rack

Side corridor linking the two outer saloons with the WC, galley and Guard's compartment

Modern BR-era features include ETS socket/jumpers, airbrake hoses, C1 classification and yellow ends.

The well appointed galley/kitchen was equipped with gas-powered cooker and appliances.

Other side of the galley. Note the BR-issue box of Jaffa Cakes....

The larger of the two saloons. Note the fold-up desks under each front window and air horn operating knobs.  A brake pressure dial is just out of view above the central end window. Electric heaters are a post-1960s addition, as is the orange carpet.

The same saloon looking towards the centre of the coach, with tall store cupboards and access to the side corridor on the right. With luggage racks and other smaller cabinets, there was certainly plenty of storage space.

One of the few remaining bits of furniture was this desk in the corner of the smaller saloon, with an old telex-type printing machine still in situ. Whisky bottles litter the floor and the twin wall lamps over the desk make it look quite homely!

My (very) rough sketch made at the time on a scrap of paper. The 'T's indicate from where I took each photograph, just like the little cameras we use on layout features in Model Rail!

The side with all the graffiti was actually in the better condition. The recessed door handle and folded access steps are seen here. Originally vacuum-operated, the steps had been modified to air-operation.

The steps on the other side... note the air tank behind.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Bachmann and Hornby models completed

Bachmann's PCA is a lovely model straight from the box, but the new ladders, walkways and brake discs - plus the weathered finish - take it to a new level of realism.

Last month, I trialled a couple of new detailing kits for the Bachmann and Hornby (ex-Lima) PCA cement tank wagons. After a hiatus of a few weeks, I've just finished painting the new parts and weathering the wagons, adding to my growing fleet of modern cement carriers. The new etched parts (from PH Designs) looked great to begin with but they now look even better, thanks to the weathered finish.

I used Tamiya acrylics, sprayed through a new airbrush I've been testing - a Harder & Steenbeck Infinity CR+ 2in1. This tool comes with a choice of nozzles/needles, a 0.4mm set for general work and a 0.15mm set for ultra-fine work. You can see the benefits of the finer needle with some of the hairline streaks of cement dirt down the sides of the tank barrels. Some MIG weathering powders and fixative were also applied to add some extra texture.

Quite an old model now, in some respects, the Hornby PCA benefits greatly from new buffers (Dart Castings) and the PH Designs upgrade kit.

I've enjoyed testing this new Harder & Steenbeck Infinity CR+ airbrush. It works well and looks even better!

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Upgraded Hornby AC Electric Ready for Painting

As previewed briefly the other week, my Hornby Class 90 project has been progressing well. The excellent PH Designs upgrade kit has made a massive difference to the level of realism, along with a resin pantograph kit that is a real miniature work of art. I've also changed the chunky Hornby wheels for a set of Ultrascale replacements and the model has been test-run.

Once some colour has been added to bodyshell, it should really come to life. As I write this, the first coat of primer is drying and I've already noted a few areas that will need some extra filler and rubbing down, so I've plenty of work to do yet.

The full demo of the detailing will appear in the nest issue of Model Rail (MR201, out soon) while the painting and transfers stages will be covered in MR202.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


A week of walking and teaching 

Since getting home, I've missed the vista that greeted me every morning - a great view of the South Downs.

I'm gradually acclimatising to life back home after a week in the glorious West Sussex countryside. I was there to teach my bi-annual, three-day airbrushing classes at The Airbrush Co. in Lancing and, by way of a change, I eschewed my regular 'digs' in Worthing for a week out in the countryside near Steyning. With a few days to myself, I managed to get out onto the Downs to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Despite being only 40-odd miles from London, there was barely a soul around, which was a welcome change from my own local countryside.

The three days of teaching went well and all attendees picked up the techniques quickly, with some excellent painting and weathering undertaken. Below are some images of my demo pieces from Days 2 and 3. I was especially happy with the GWR tank loco, which took about 30mins to do (albeit just one side and end!). The faded BR blue Class 25s form part of my Advanced course on the final day - with both models destined for a future magazine article in Model Rail

Thanks again to everyone who attended each course, including a few familiar faces from previous classes. It was a pleasure to meet you all and to pass on my various 'tricks of the trade'!

Weathered with a mix of acrylics, dry pigments and enamels, this Bachmann model has really come to life. A little gloss varnish on the tanks and boiler adds a final touch. 

The 25s are used to show a number of advanced techniques, such as varying the basic livery to add highlights and shading, applying pin washes and 'soft' masks with Blu Tack.

The van was pre-shaded and sprayed over the original EWS livery, thus avoiding the need for stripping and re-priming, while the tank wagon showed off a range of basic airbrush weathering techniques.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Sneaky peak at detailed Hornby '90'

A few quick snaps of the Hornby Class 90 as it awaits some final touches prior to painting and finishing. Outstanding items include lamp brackets, TDM cables and pantograph (a delicate resin kit). The difference from the rather basic donor model is already incredible and the installation of the PH Designs upgrade kit is proving to be great fun. I've also fitted a set of Ultrascale wheels for extra refinement.

I'm looking forward to getting the loco finished and painted up into DRS blue livery. Look out for the full detailing demo and Masterclass article in issue 201 of Model Rail magazine, while the painting will be covered in MR202...

Monday, 1 September 2014


Shop visit reveals some surprises

I was recently invited to the Hattons store in Wavertree, Liverpool, for a look at the impressive pre-owned service that was launched a few years back - and which is proving incredibly successful. It's always a joy to pop back to Liverpool and, stepping from the train onto Mossley Hill station, I immediately felt at home. The station is about a mile walk to the Hattons store, with the stroll along Rose Lane and up Allerton Road taking me back down memory lane... 

I used to live around these parts, cycling this route on a daily basis. Moreover, my aunty lived nearby too, so many a childhood day was spent on Allerton High Street and Calderstones Park, while Mossley Hill station is forever remembered as a spooky location on dark winter evenings, awaiting the train home. I was always fascinated by why the overhead wires in the Liverpool area were bright green - something you don't really see elsewhere....

Anyway, it was good to catch up with the staff at Hattons - a consistently friendly and helpful bunch and, although the premises have moved a few hundred yards up the road, it still holds a special place in my heart - much of my early trainset stock was bought from here - with my Dad being a regular customer in his youth too! You can read all about my visit in Model Rail issue 201, out September 25. Needless to say, I came away from the pre-owned department with a box full of 'bargains' under my arm - I knew it would be fatal!!

One thing that I will mention in advance, however, is that Hattons are also now offering a full 3D printing and design service, with some of the printing machines visible in the shop window. There was quite a weird and wonderful array of 3D printed commissions lying around the workshop upstairs, showing that a wide variety of customers have been using the service, not just railway modellers. Hattons can also sell you a 3D printing machine for home use, with prices starting at £380ish for a simple Printrbot. See for more info.

Watch the 3D printing process at work in Hattons' shop window!