Thursday, 23 October 2014


Etched chassis brings extra class to elderly loco model.

Having recently upgraded an old Mainline LNER J72 for a friend, reader Duncan Young asked about me fitting an etched chassis to the model, that's now in the Bachmann range. He'd mentioned the Comet chassis, but I employed a Mainly Trains etched kit which was a joy to build and really looks the part - certainly a massive improvement on the old solid metal split chassis block that dated back to the 1970s.

The building of the chassis, and detailing of the bodyshell, was covered in Model Rail issue 190 (January 2014), where I talked about knackering up an excellent Exactoscale enclosed transmission (all my own stoopid fault), so the loco is now running on a Comet gearbox and Mashima motor that I had in store - and run very well, it does.

Another thing I'd tried and made a mess of, was a set of plunger pickups. After drilling and reaming out the mounting holes, I managed to break a couple of the delicate brass turnings and, to be honest, I simply lost patience and abandoned the idea. It only took an hour or so to  knock up a set of my usual wiper power collectors and these have been working fine enough.

Monday, 13 October 2014


Resin conversion kit lined and named.

Started a few months back, this ARC Models resin conversion kit for the Hornby L&Y 'Pug' 0-4-0ST is now finally complete and ready for service at Maudetown Colliery. I've treated it to a nice coat of carmine red and a set of Jackson Evans Poppy nameplates were found in the bottom of a toolbox. Being as it's almost Remembrance Day, the monicker seemed wholly apt.

I'm very pleased with the paint finish, not least is it was applied by aerosol and hand brush, with the airbrush only employed at the very end for a gentle bit of misted weathering (most of the mucking-up was also done by hand). The Revell carmine red looked a bit bright to begin with but once the lining and darker elements were touched in, followed by a few coats of gloss varnish, the red took on a lovely deep lustre - just the thing for a hardworking industrial engine.

I just need to add a footplate crew, 3-link couplings and some coal and Poppy is finally complete. I've thoroughly enjoyed the building and finishing of this loco and, with another couple of ARC Models kit in stock, I may be starting another one soon!

Thursday, 9 October 2014


Mainline/Bachmann hybrid makes a pretty picture.

A very patient friend gave me a slightly decrepit Mainline J72 0-6-0T a few years ago, with the instructions to 'see what you can do with this'. One of the axles had sheared and the motor was spluttering but the bodyshell was in good nick. Having eventually obtained a spare Bachmann J72 chassis after building an etched kit for a similar loco, it made sense to combine the two to make one good model. The body was treated to wire handrails (replacing the moulded originals), etched lamp brackets and smokebox door handle, plus new buffers and a set of fire irons stored atop the tanks.

It took a wee bit of fettling to get the later Bachmann chassis to fit the older body, but I got there in the end and, with a bit of weathering, the loco looks pretty good - and runs well too!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


DRS Class 90 just needs a few finishing touches.

My upgraded Hornby Class 90, using a new detail kit from PH Designs, is almost ready for service. Just the glazing and the rooftop conductor/insulators need fitting, along with the headlight lenses. The DRS transfers, from R3Sprays went on a treat and, although it's perhaps not the most innovative livery, the shade of blue certainly suits the outline of the loco. This is definitely the more interesting side of the 90, with there being no room for the 'Compass' logo on the opposite side!

As usually happens when I dip my toes into modelling the contemporary railway scene, I read the other week that Virgin's 'Pretendolino' set - which the DRS Class 90 is contracted to haul - is being withdrawn soon, so I wonder what will happen to 90034...? Nothing seems to stay the same for long on the privatised railway.

Look out for a demo on how this loco was finished in the next issue of Model Rail (MR202), on sale October 23rd.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Two very different models in the paint shop

It's not uncommon for me to be working on a number of projects concurrently, usually progressing through similar stages such as painting, transfers, weathering etc at the same time. This saves a lot of hassle as the workbench only need be set up for one undertaking rather than cluttering it up with all sorts of glues, tools and materials. However, this last week has been a bit different...

In the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR202), we're looking at the painting and finishing processes in depth, so I needed to cover lots of different approaches. Therefore, the Class 90 project has been progressing, with airbrushes employed to get the main livery applied, hand brushes stepping in for the detail work. There's also been a wee mishap along the way when the masking tape pulled away some of the blue paint - only a small patch near the roof line, but it demanded a few hours of extra work and - most annoyingly - another 12hours for the enamels to cure. This hasn't happened to me for a while, but it's actually perfect timing, making for an excellent 'What if it goes wrong?' fact panel in the article!!

The other loco being finished is the great little ARC Models kit of the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST that I built a few months ago, using the Hornby L&Y 'Pug' chassis. I've been painting this one with aerosols and by hand (without fingerprints, ha ha!). It's years since I last used aerosols for a 'proper' loco finish and the Revell rattle cans have proved excellent. It's still a pain to get the paint evenly distributed around the boiler, so it takes a bit of care and patience. An airbrush certainly isn't any quicker in this respect, but it is easier to control, once you get the hang of it. Again, all will be explained in MR202.

I've a few bits to finish off on the '90' before it's ready for a varnish coat and then both models will receive transfers and, in the case of the 'kettle', some nice lining too. Although applying decals can be a chore, the fact that they help the models to come to life always makes it worthwhile....