Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Bachmann Mk1s finished and ready for service.

My fleet of 1980s era carriages is taking shape, slowly but surely. Having picked up the odd model here and there over the past 10 years, I've finally amassed enough of the various vehicle types to make up two believable rakes for a typical North West secondary passenger service. However, with Bachmann only producing a standard end across its Mk1 range (apart from the recent Sleeper stock), I've been left with a need to make a few modifications - namely to remove most of the end access steps, alter the handrails and move the lamp brackets to the gangway surrounds.

Apart from all the hacking, sanding, filling and filing, there's the paintwork to touch up and the running numbers to alter. While I was at it, I thought I may as well upgrade the buffers and add extra details to the end carriages of each rake. Then, there's the interiors to spruce up, passengers to install and the weathering to apply.

Who'd have thought that passenger stock would take up so much time?!

Look out for the next issue of MODEL RAIL magazine (MR208) for the lowdown on how I upgraded these MK1s...

Monday, 23 March 2015


Making the Bachmann Mark 1 even better.

For the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR208), we're delving into the history of the iconic BR Mark 1 carriage. I'll also be looking at how to improve the Bachmann Mk1, while Chris Leigh has worked over the new Hornby Mk1. Additionally, Ben Ando has been chatting to Bachmann about how the impressive range of Mk1 models was created. Should be quite a feast for coaching stock fans...!

Big, medium and small - the Heljan 7mm scale BG towers over the Bachmann 'OO' and Farish 'N' models. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Bachmann model gains new identity.

I've been sorting through my collection of blue and grey Mark 1s recently, noting how they're a real mixed bag in terms of regional allocations. I tend to buy whatever is going cheap or secondhand, as long as it's the right type of vehicle, knowing that I can easily swap running numbers. Indeed, this former Eastern Region corridor second has now gained Scot Rail branding and number, without any need for painting or refinishing. 

I've used Replica Railways rub-on transfers in this instance, but all my other coaches are destined for 'M' prefixes and authentic numbers courtesy of a new pack from Railtec Transfers. I'll be demonstrating how I remove the original printed legends and add the replacements in issue 208 of Model Rail magazine - out next month.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Club reaches impressive milestone.

The celebrations at the Sale headquarters of Manchester Model Railway Society on Saturday marked the 90th birthday of the club, making it one of the oldest such organisations in the world. Indeed, it was an honour to be invited as a guest to such a special occasion and it was my pleasure to raise a toast to the Society, hoping for at least another 90 years!

The need to prepare a speech set me thinking about what has transpired over the last 90 years - such a vast amount of time. The world has obviously changed enormously, in so many ways. As have the railways of Britain, moving from private companies to a nationalised system and back again.

Some constants remain however, such as our enduring desire to replicate the world in miniature. We all try and recreate our own versions of history, whether it be the nostalgia of our youth, what we deem to be the railway's golden years, or maybe just what we saw on the railway yesterday. Another constant is the general bemusement of non-enthusiasts, but that will probably never change!

The day's events went well, with the club rooms at Dean Hall being busy with members and their families and many of the layouts running. I was given the job of operating the 'P4' Slattocks Junction layout, being in charge of some exquisitely built stock - a Black 5 and a rake of non-gangway coaches, all hand built. Quite nerve wracking to begin with!

The Mayor of Trafford was the guest of honour and he seemed mightily impressed by the club and its layouts, especially by Dewsbury Midland. He even mentioned bringing along his grandchildren next time.

The year's festivities climax in December when the MMRS hold their annual exhibition, at the Barnes Wallis Building of Manchester University on the weekend of the 5-6th. A short stroll from Piccadilly station, it's in a great location. So make a note in your diaries - it should be a great show.

For more info on the club, see mmrs.co.uk

Here I am, in the background looking puzzled by the DCC controller on Slattocks Junction - I worked it out in the end! The hand-built trackwork on this layout looks amazing. Can't wait to see it once the scenery starts to appear. Photos courtesy of MMRS.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Wood effect finish almost complete.

It's taken a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to get the varnished wood effect to my satisfaction, but this 3D printed model is almost ready for final assembly. The panelled sides just need a few more dilute washes and a little highlighting work, then the body will be masked up and the roof painted. In the meantime, though, I've been experimenting with some amazing metallic finishes from AK Interactive. Offered in tubes, a wide range of 'metals' is catered for, such as gunmetal, copper, steel, iron and, as employed here, a very realistic brass colour.

They're more like a wax than a paint and, therefore, are for application by hand. Coverage is excellent - many metallic paints tend to be very thin and take a few coats, but not these. Squeezing a blob onto some card and applying with a fine brush has brought the handrails and door handles to life. It takes a few hours to dry but, when fully cured, it can be polished with a dry cloth or swab for an even more realistic finish. With this in mind, it may be worth applying these paints at the end of a project. But, as I wanted a particular finish, I've applied it now, prior to the initial varnishing coats.

Definitely worth experimenting with, the tubes are good value and will last for ages - as long as you put the lid back on properly!! Incidentally, I bought my samples from Scale Model Shop.