Wednesday, 30 July 2014

BUILDING A CHINA CLAY FLEET

Mix of kits and RTR for a 1960s era Cornish freight train


I've been stocking up on china clay wagons for an upcoming feature for Model Rail, with a few Ratio, Parkside plastic kits to be assembled, plus a stock of Bachmann RTR wagons to modify to original 1950/60s condition. Bachmann's model is attractive, but the standard underframe features the later roller bearing axle boxes that need to go, as do the Ratio kits. So, I'll be raiding my stocks of MJT axle boxes and carving away plenty of plastic over the next few days. Two wagons have already been put together, so it feels like I'm making progress. I'm aiming for the flat sheeted style of tarpaulin covers, rather than the raised hoods of the post-1970s scene, so I'm looking forward to that stage...

Parkside's GWR china clay open (left) and Ratio's later BR version with vacuum brakes. I've swapped the roller bearings on the Ratio model for some spare plate-fronted oil 'boxes from the spares box.

Monday, 28 July 2014

INDUSTRIAL ACTION!

Conversion kits for Hornby 'Pug' under test



ARC Models is a new name in the model railway kit world, launched last year with a small selection of 4mm scale resin locomotive conversion kits. Portraying popular industrial types, the kits are designed to fit onto ready-to-run chassis with little fuss. I have 3 kits to tinker with, each being a variation on an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST theme, intended for use with the venerable Hornby/Dapol L&Y 'Pug'.

In each kit, the resin castings are impressively rendered, with lots of smaller details supplied, such as chimney, buffers, steps, clack valves, etc. Indeed, the modeller need only add a few final touches such as wire handrails and brass knobs, lamp brackets and smokebox door handle.

I'm looking forward to making a start with this kit, with a full appraisal and building demo slated for issue 200 of Model Rail magazine.

You can see more information about the ARC Models range on RM Web - CLICK HERE! 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

PHOTO IGLOO

New bit of studio kit proving worthwhile


I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I've been much happier with my model photography in the last couple of issues of Model Rail magazine, due mostly to some new photo studio kit. The pop-up white 'igloo' has been a great help when taking close-up images of models and components, especially those troublesome black steam engines that I've been working on of late. Black locos can be horrible things to photograph at times, but this simple contraption bounces the light all around the subject while at the same time softening and evening it all out. The lack of a 'floor' also allows it to be dropped onto a diorama and back scene, making it a bit handier than some of the enclosed light tents available.

I'd been thinking of trying something like this since Chris Nevard started bringing his light tent to model shows. The clarity that his set-up brought to his product portraits was incredible. I'm also using a roll of brilliant white vinyl sheet instead of the woven background supplied with the igloo.

The igloo - or Kaiser Dome-Studio light tent as they're officially called, is available in various sizes - this is the smallest at 58cm wide - and I got mine from Wex Photographic. As you can tell from the photo, I don;t have a great deal of space in my work room, so the fact that the tent can be erected and folded away in minutes is a boon. All in all, not bad for £30-odd quid...

Monday, 21 July 2014

DON'T SPARE THE ROD 4

Project complete, ready for photo session


The modified Bachmann model is now ready for service, looking every inch a hardworking freight locomotive that has been pressed into service at short notice. The blacked out ROD number on the tender is a giveaway as to its previous life and the GWR may have added a few of its own fittings, but they certainly haven't pampered it or treated it to a coat of GWR green.

I've been impressed by the Harder & Steenbeck airbrush that I employed for the painting and weathering. The Infinity CR Plus 2in1 has proved versatile enough to cover a range of general and fine detail work, with the limescale streaking being particularly effective. I finished off the weathering with the loco on running at slow speed on a rolling road, allowing the paint to reach all of the chassis, wheels and motion without leaving any 'stencilling' effects. This idea was suggested to me by Tony at Wealistic Models and it's quite effective - just be sure to clean up the rolling road afterwards. Incidentally, this excellent rolling road is from the Marion Zeller brand - a fantastic bit of kit!

Look out for the full demo and the history of these fascinating 'ROD' locomotives in teh next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR199), out July 31.



Friday, 18 July 2014

DON'T SPARE THE ROD 3

Weathered finish starts to take shape


The Bachmann 'ROD' is nearing completion, with the airbrushed weathering giving the loco a suitably work-stained appearance. My chosen prototype, GWR 3085, looked pretty dishevelled and unloved in the images that I'm working from. The photos are undated but some research puts them at around 1926/27 and, given that the real thing had been scrapped by 1930ish, it enjoyed a very short career on the GWR. Indeed, it looks as if it was simply patched up and put straight to work after purchase from the War Department in the 1920s.

I'm aiming to follow the prototype image as much as possible and the tender is going to need some special treatment - but more of that later.

Incidentally, the weathering on this model is being done with a new Harder & Steenbeck airbrush that I have received for review. It's an 'Infinity CR Plus' 2in1 device, with a choice of needle/nozzle sizes to suit different tasks. So far, I've been using the larger size needle (0.4mm) for the general painting and weathering, but I'll soon be trying the 0.15mm needle for the detail work, especially limescale streaks from the washout plugs that were a prominent feature of the real loco.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

DON'T SPARE THE ROD 2

Bachmann model modified and primed


Having gone under the knife for some moderately invasive surgery, the Bachmann 'ROD' 2-8-0 has been primed pending the application of the livery coats. I've kept the loco in bits for now as the primer was expected to (and did) show up some imperfections in the filler and sanding visited upon the boiler, smokebox and tender. Once the primer has dried, I'll have to rub down those areas again, clean things up and prime again - no big deal. Indeed, I always use this stage as a proving ground as no matter how thorough you think you are when filling and abrading, any fine gaps or depressions never show up until the light, even coat of primer is applied. Also, leaving the fitting of delicate details and handrails until later, makes it easier to address any problems.

This slight pause before reassembly and painting also allows me to double check that I've got everything correct, which is just as well. A closer study of the old black & white image of my chosen prototype reveals that I've fitted the wrong pattern of smokebox door handle - it should be of the original 'wheel' pattern, with a single plain arm beneath, rather than the later style of twin arms that I've installed. Luckily, I have suitable parts in stock to affect a quick swap. Also, I've yet to fit the old style of boiler washout plugs that stand well proud of the firebox.

I must have been rushing slightly to get to the painting and weathering stage, probably because I have just received some new airbrushing equipment to try out. Patience, Dent. Patience...

Monday, 14 July 2014

DON'T SPARE THE ROD

Bachmann 'ROD' 2-8-0 on the workbench






Today, I've started work on the Masterclass subject for the next issue of Model Rail magazine - the Robinson 'ROD' 2-8-0. Using the Bachmann models as a basis, I've been rifling through some very interesting books and magazine articles in search of inspiration. Of particular use was 'Heavy Goods Engines of the War Department, Volume 1' by JWP Rowledge, which contains a couple of images that immediately grabbed my attention. As I'm using a GWR-owned example, my choice of prototype was limited, but I think I've settled on something interesting. Another good book on the 'RODs' is 'Robinson Locomotives' by Brian Haresnape and Peter Rowledge.

I must admit that I didn't pay too much attention to this Bachmann model when it was first released, but having actually got my hands on one, it's rather impressive. Plain black steam locos can be much of a muchness sometimes, especially to someone whose leanings are incurably towards diesel subjects, but the level of detail and refinement is admirable, especially in terms of the open cab and tender chassis. I've drawn up a list of jobs to do and the model is going to have to be dismantled completely before the major work can begin. Now, where's my screwdriver...?!
GWR fittings, such as the chimney, valve bonnet and top feed valves set this apart from the locomotive's Great Central heritage. There's going to have to be some surgery on that boiler though...


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

AIRFIX SPITFIRE 6

A little progress to report - but still not finished!


There hasn't been a great deal of modelling going on in the Dent Workshop in the past few weeks, with much more in the way of editorial and admin tasks to take care of. However, I have managed a few hours on my Airfix Spitfire, with the canopy now painted and fitted, along with the propeller and a few finishing touches to the weathering. All that's missing now is the antenna and wire, plus the wheels. I've also just ordered a neat little display case from Hattons which should keep the finished model safe on my desk.

Having just cleared my desk, I should now be free to get on with some practical work, although a bit of research is needed. The next project in line is a Bachmann ROD 2-8-0, a prototype I know very little about, so I've started swotting up on their careers and searching out some prototype images in a quest for inspiration...