Friday, 23 December 2016


Ovine logo adorns a Welsh 'Tractor'.

With a longstanding interest in South Wales-based Class 37s, I recently came across a few images of shabby blue locos adorned with a small sheep logo. Apparently known as Selwyn, it seems that the sheep were the work of a driver from the Barry area, first appearing in the 1980s. Funnily enough, some present day DB Cargo Class 60s have sported similar black sheep logos with Margam Depot's initials.

My ViTrains model depicts 37284 in mid-1980s condition, with patches beneath the cab windows where the cast builders' plates have been recently removed and the frost grilles (Shawplan etches) are still in place. The sheep motifs are from Precision Decals, while the TOPS numbers, data panels and depot stickers are from Railtec.

I'm rather pleased with the weathered finish to this repainted model. Abrasives have been used to create patches of peeling/scuffed paintwork as well as introducing some tonal variety.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Quick weathering job sees 37901 finished.

As the Christmas holiday approaches and with the next issue of Model Rail magazine done and dusted, I've been able to concentrate on some practical tasks, tying up some lose ends and preparing upcoming projects. With a need to clear the decks of unfinished work, my recent Class 37/9 conversion has been treated to a quick weathering job, taking away the pristine look that made the ViTrains model look a little toy-like.

Resembling how I remember the real thing in the late 1980s, a mix of enamel washes and airbrushed paints has improved the model considerably.

Next in the queue for completion is another tatty EWS Class 60, a Welsh blue '37' and a change of identity for a Metals sub-sector Class 47...

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Class 37/9 conversion complete.

With the new issue of Model Rail going on sale this week (MR230), here's a few images of the subject of this month's Masterclass feature. Portraying the first of the re-engineered Class 37s, 37901 had its English Electric power unit replaced with a beast of an engine from Stockport-based Mirrlees Blackstone. To allow the taller engine to fit, a new roof panel was required, making for an interesting modelling challenge.

I actually started this project way back in 2012 using a long-obsolete (and rather basic) A1 Models conversion kit. However, I didn't get very far before abandoning the model to the 'to do' pile. In the meantime, Pete Harvey brought out a much superior conversion kit for the Mirrlees-equipped fleet (37901-904), allowing for the modifications made to the exhaust outlets. 

The Model Rail feature explains exactly how the conversion was undertaken, with the etched parts going together - and slotting into a hole cut into the bodyshell - perfectly. It proved to be great fun and I'm glad to finally get the thing finished after nearly five years! Although, I haven't had time to weather it yet, so that might be a job for the next few days...

Friday, 9 December 2016


Shabby Class 60 ready for action.

Now sporting a set of faded number and logo transfers from Precision Labels, this Hornby 'Tug' really looks the part. The vibrant livery has been toned down with a dark grey filter coat, followed by dark washes added to all the recesses and seams. Airbrushed enamels then finished the weathering, giving the loco a more authentic look. I'm so pleased with how this has turned out that I've just started a second '60', this time with slightly less faded markings. 

Thursday, 8 December 2016


Ready-faded decals put to the test.

All shiny and ready for the new decals...

Those Class 60s still wearing EWS colours have been looking a tad shabby in recent years , with faded or peeling numbers and letters. Replicating this has just got a lot easier thanks to some great new waterslide transfers from Precision Labels. Based on images of the real thing, each pack is tailored to a specific locomotive and copies the extent and pattern of fading perfectly. Foil-effect nameplates are also available, but I've opted for a pair of etched 'plates from Fox.

A variety of faded decals are available for a variety of OO and N gauge Class 60s , including tatty Load Haul logos.

After rubbing away the existing numbers on my Hornby model, I gave it a generous layer of high gloss clear varnish, using Alclad2's Klear Kote Gloss, built up over several coats. This gives the transfers the best surface on which to adhere and ensure that the clear carrier film remains invisible.

Once applied, the decals were sealed with further gloss coats (sprayed in ultra-thin layers to avoid damaging the transfers), followed by satin or matt varnish according to your tastes. All I need to do now is add a suitable weathered finish to suit the tatty outlook of the transfers.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Another Class 37 project is complete - with some innovative transfers employed.

The latest issue of Model Rail magazine (MR229) went on sale last week and features a pair of Class 37s that I've recently detailed and repainted. As mentioned in the last Blog post, a number of interesting new decals have been employed across both models. In this instance, it's a set of 3D waterslide nameplate decals from Railtec.

Etched metal nameplates provide that distinctive relief of the real thing, capturing the raised surround and individual letters. They can be a pain to apply neatly though, with the risk of glue stains and wonky positioning. Cutting them from the fret cleanly can also be difficult, especially with stainless steel 'plates. Filing away burrs without bending the metal is yet another challenge.

Although, with practice and patience, these challenges aren't too difficult to master, but what if there's a quick and simple alternative that can also work out cheaper? Enter Railtec's three-dimensional transfers that really look the part. Some of the 'plates' can also feature screw and bolt heads where appropriate.

Application proved simple, following the same procedure as regular transfers, so there's plenty of scope for getting the names aligned exactly before the decals dry out. A coat of varnish seals everything securely. By the way, Railtec provides a one-stop option for 37424/558's markings, with a single decal pack offering all numbers and logos, plus the nameplates (including a spare just in case!).  

Over summer, the real 37424 was named and re-numbered in honour of the last airworthy Avro Vulcan bomber, that had recently retired. The 558 numbers are only cosmetic, with the original numbers retained on the front ends. This Bachmann model should be making its way to the NEC tomorrow, to be displayed on the Model Rail stand at this year's Warley Model Railway exhibition.

And what of the final '37' in the trio that I have been working on? That is just being finished off and will feature in the January 2017 issue of Model Rail...

Monday, 7 November 2016


Three different Class 37s in progress, each with a contemporary relevance.

A triumvirate of English Electric Type 3s has been taking up most of my time and energies over the past couple of weeks, each posing particular challenges. The most demanding has been 37800 in the striking Europhoenix scheme, that has required the mixing-up of appropriate paint shades, creating stencils for painting the phoenix's wings and a few physical modifications to the bodywork to mirror the real thing. 

A set of lovely transfers from Precision Labels eased the job, with the mythical bird's head and all logos being provided on one sheet of waterslide decals. The same source also provided a set of 3D-printed Dellner pivoting couplings.

Another '37' in the news has been 37424, recently named and re-numbered in honour of the last airworthy Avro Vulcan jet bomber. This is the first large logo blue '37' I've painted in a long time, the scheme being a staple of my youthful endeavours back in the 1980s. Somehow, I managed to mess up the masking of the black window surrounds and had to re-do them - should have paid more attention! Once I've sorted out the masking, this model will be receiving a set of the great new three-dimensional transfers from Railtec - watch this space...

Two of the 'tractors' (37800 and 37424/558) will be appearing in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR229 - out 17 November), while the third - a Class 37/9 conversion - is to feature in the following issue. The pioneer of the 1980s re-engineering programme, 37901, is the subject, the real locomotive having just been bought out of preservation by Colas. But more on this in a later post.

When working on multiple models at once, I try and keep them in similar stages of development, especially with similar livery schemes. Alas, I messed up with the black surrounds on the blue loco, so that has to be taken back a stage.
All glossed-up and ready for the decals - Precision Labels provide all you need for the Europhoenix scheme, with just the overhead warning symbols being sourced separately.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Revell kit complete and moored at harbour.

Here are some images of my completed North Sea fishing trawler, built over several weeks from a 1:140 scale Revell plastic kit. Quite a few detail additions have been installed, mostly scratch built from plastic, along with a set of fishing nets and super-fine rigging to the masts. The piece-de-resistance, is a set of excellent pre-painted Presier 'N' gauge trawler crew figures, which finish off the deck and harbour scene perfectly.

You can see how I improved the trawler kit and built the harbour diorama (including the water), in the latest issue of Model Rail magazine (MR228), that goes on sale tomorrow.

Monday, 26 September 2016


Plastic kit turns into a labour of love.

With a maritime feel planned for the next issue of MODEL RAIL, I thought I'd try my hand at building a typical North Sea fishing trawler. Using a longstanding Revell plastic kit (that dates back to the 1970s under the Monogram brand), the scale is roughly suited to 2mm scale/'N' gauge and would provide an excellent focal point for a rail-served harbour or wharf. The kit is a tad basic and takes a few liberties with the prototype, but it essentially captures the look of one of the Ross fleet of trawlers working out of Grimsby in the 1960s/1970s. 

I'd originally set aside a couple of days to get the assembly complete, followed by another few days painting and weathering. However, thanks to the need to fettle virtually every detail fitting before installation and add filler to the joints, it's taken two weeks to get this far, albeit with other jobs fitted in between stages - working relentlessly on filing down the hugely over-scale railings would drive anyone potty, so plenty of breaks were needed.

Plenty of extra details have been added, mostly fabricated from Evergreen plastic strip, section and rod. As there are no steps between levels of superstructure, only feint moulded ladders, I've had to build my own, which took a good few hours. The moulded ladders have also been replaced with photo-etch from NBrass Locos, making quite an improvement. 

Painting is now underway and the ship is really coming to life. For a full lowdown on how the project unfolded, look out for issue 228 of MODEL RAIL magazine, on sale from 20 October.

Adding exhaust stacks into the cavernous, empty funnel - an essential detail upgrade.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Quick upgrade for a Bachmann cattle van. 

I've been easing my way back into the work groove this week, after a fortnight's R'n'R. Faced with hundreds of Emails and a stack of review projects and features to work through, I thought I'd make time for something a bit more enjoyable. So, having ring-fenced an hour for some practical work, I had a go at a quick weathering job on one of Bachmann's excellent BR cattle wagons.

This is a factory-weathered version, with tampo-printed patches of buff coloured stains, which looked OK at first glance but the overall effect lacked depth and tonal variety. So, I started with a dark acrylic wash to stain the seams between the planks, followed by airbrushed 'dirt' over the chassis and body. Finally, various shades of off-white acrylic were dry-brushed over the lower sides to mimic lime wash disinfectant. All done in 45minutes or so.

Now, back to that pile of editorial work...

Friday, 2 September 2016


GWR 28XX gets an unorthodox repaint.

I recently obtained a secondhand Hornby 28XX, complete with replacement etched brass chassis and a whitemetal tender. In fact, the only remnants of the Hornby model are the boiler, smokebox and cab. While the mechanics of the model were sound, the paint job was a little rough and ready. And besides, I fancied a green version with GWR lettering rather than the austere BR black that the model arrived in.

Luckily, the plastic loco bodyshell was self-coloured plastic, so all that needed was a rubdown with abrasives and a good scrub. The tender, however, needed stripping back to bare metal and I trialled AlcladII's new airbrush cleaning solvent as a paint stripper - it worked in seconds! Simply brushed on, a little at a time, and the bubbling paint was removed with an old toothbrush (don't try it on plastic models!). The controlled application also meant that only the body sides and ends could be treated, without affecting the chassis or bunker. The tender was then cleaned and degreased with Isopropyl alcohol.

I think the replacement chassis is a Comet kit; not sure of the tender's provenance. 

After priming, with AlcladII white micro primer/filler, I employed a pre-shading method, using a strategically placed undercoat of black paint to provide dark shadows beneath the livery coats which then followed. But instead of just spraying the whole thing in a flat, even coat of Brunswick Green, I mixed a few different shades (using Railmatch enamels), both lighter and darker than the original. These were then sprayed through the airbrush in particular areas, to create high and low lights.

It all sounds a bit of a faff but, once you've tried it a couple of times, it can be a rather speedy process. With the green sorted, the black areas and red bufferbeams were treated in a similar fashion, followed by detail painting including the brass and copper fittings.

So, what's the point? The idea is to create a model that looks more realistic, with a lived-in appearance but without actually being dirty. Only minimal misting of 'dirt' colours was applied at the end, mostly to the chassis, smokebox and boiler top, more to impart a flat matt finish than anything else. the rest of the loco was given a very subtle, semi-gloss sheen, suggesting years of use on the mainline, in the smoky environs of the 1930s, but with regular cleaning with oily rags. 

Building up multiple shades and tones, rather than a flat rendition of the livery colour.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Brass kit complete and in service.

After a couple of weeks of on-off work, the PH Designs Network Rail Track Inspection Coach is now ready for action. What an enjoyable project this turned out to be, and I was lucky to have most of the extra bits and pieces needed to finish the kit already in stock. I did struggle to find any off-the-shelf roof vents of the correct plain dome pattern, so I turned my own, using whitemetal BR shell vents as the basis, re-profiling them while mounted in a mini drill. 

As will be demonstrated in the next issue of Model Rail (MR227), the 4mm scale kit went together very well, with the parts very well thought out, complete with slots and tabs to aid location in most instances. The kit is also available in 7mm scale.

With thanks to Peter at PH Designs for the kit, and Steve at Railtec for the transfers.

Monday, 22 August 2016


Network Rail test coach kit under construction.

Pete Harvey of PH Designs pressed this fantastic kit into my hands at the Warley show a couple of years ago, but I've only just gotten around to putting it together. Representing a BR Swindon-built 57ft observation saloon, after the later addition of recessed bodyside panels. The prototype was in use with Network Rail until fairly recently, usually to be seen sandwiched between a pair of Class 31s or 37s, or a single loco and DMBS.

The kit is certainly impressive and the brass bits have gone together well. Almost everything is provided, save for castings such as buffers, air brake reservoirs, bogies and roof vents. I have virtually everything stockpiled, but the roof vents are eluding me at present, so am considering making my own. 

A full demo of the project will appear in Model Rail magazine, issue 227, on sale 22 September.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


Hornby 0-4-0ST finished and ready for work.

As mentioned previously, some quick detail upgrades were recently visited upon this humble L&Y 'Pug' as a prelude to a weathering job. The loco is now complete and ready to start work shunting the sidings of Maudetown Colliery. The weathering consisted of hand-applied Lifecolor acrylic paints and powders - no airbrush work at all. And it took me about two hours, making three hours in all for the detailing and finishing. Not bad!

There's much more I could've done, especially replacing those huge moulded lubricator reservoirs on the front of the smokebox, and I'd like to upgrade the wheels at some point. But I'll make do for now.

I wonder what's in the bucket?! 

Monday, 15 August 2016


Quick upgrade for Hornby L&Y 0-4-0ST.

A spare hour or two over the weekend found me dabbling with this Hornby L&Y 'Pug' that has been in my collection for a good 10 years or more without ever receiving the attention it deserved. It's a really good runner, despite the basic mechanism, but the bland factory-weathered finish needed an improvement and I decided to tweak a few details while I was at it. A new chimney (from 51L models, I believe), smokebox door handle, drawhook and lamp brackets add some finesse, while the big sprung buffers (Gibson) replaced the dumb originals. Although retaining its BR identity, the loco is destined for use in my semi-fictional National Coal Board fleet, so I've not bothered too much with fidelity to the exact prototype. 

And now, to touch-in the new bits and apply a proper weathering job...

Friday, 12 August 2016


Latest book about to hit the shelves.

My latest book is about to be published by Crowood Press, going on sale from 22 August 2016. Covering just about everything to do with modelling coaching stock, there are chapters on detailing ready-to-run models, kit building in plastic, resin, metal and wood, scratch-building, painting, lining and weathering. There's also a guide to installing interior lighting, working tail lamps, interior detailing, compensation, couplings and corridor connections. 

Lavishly illustrated - in full colour - it's quite a weighty tome, with over 250 pages crammed with practical demonstrations. Available to pre-order now on Amazon, the book will be available from all good bookstores or direct from

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


JLTRT kit completed and ready for action.

Here's a sneaky peak at the finished Rectank wagon, built from one of the latest 'O' gauge kits from Just Like The Real Thing. It's a real beauty and has provided some great fun during assembly and painting. It will be featuring in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (226), out later this month, along with a look at developments on JLTRT's founder Pete Waterman's epic layout. 

In conversation with Richard Foster, Pete described how he wants his kits to be build-able in an hour. Well, I spent a bit longer on the Rectank, but I've always been a slow modeller, especially when building something for the first time. Also, I put quite a bit of extra effort into the finish, with realistic wood grain effects on the load bed in particular. The steel load and DIY bolsters also took some time, but they were my own additions.

However, having built one - and worked out an easy way of getting the compensated bogies to slot together without the springs pinging off into space - I reckon I could knock a few more of these out a lot quicker. But then, as I enjoyed the build so much, I was in no hurry for the fun to end!!

Monday, 8 August 2016


Instant updates from the Dent Workshop.

I've just set up an Instagram page, where I'll be posting images of all things to do with trains, models, scenery and, naturally, my dog! I'll obviously still be keeping this Blog going, but the Instagram page offers an alternative outlet for different material. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


Just Like The Real Thing kit almost complete.

Here's a quick peek at progress on the 7mm scale JLTRT kit of an ex-War Department 'Rectank'. A set of scratch-built wooden bolsters has been installed and a load of 'steel' section created from Evergreen styrene. The excellent Railtec transfers have just been applied and, once they're dry and sealed with varnish, I can finish the weathering job and secure the load with miniature chain. 

As mentioned previously, this is a superb kit and I'm almost sorry that it's nearly complete - I haven't enjoyed building a wagon kit so much in ages! Look out for the article in Model Rail magazineissue 226, on the shelves in the UK on 25 August... 
Railtec offers 7mm scale transfer packs for ex-LMS, LNER, GWR and SR Rectanks (packs 7200-7203). Being a loyal Midland Region modeller, I opted for the LMS pack.

Friday, 29 July 2016


Just Like The Real Thing's latest kit impresses. 

I've spent a pleasant few days assembling one of the latest 7mm scale kits from Just Like The Real Thing, depicting the ex-War Department 'Rectank' flat wagon. Built during the First World War for the transport of tanks, many of these wagons were subsequently purchased by the various pre-Grouping British railway companies. Pressed into service carrying all sorts of commodities, many lasted well into the nationalisation era.

This is my first experience of a JLTRT kit, although I've heard plenty of praise for the locomotive and rolling stock kits from colleagues and readers over the years. Is the hype justified? If this kit is representative of the range, then absolutely YES!

The parts are superbly rendered, everything fits together with no hassle and you only need a small selection of tools. What's more, the whole thing has been assembled with a single tube of cyano glue - with not a soldering iron in sight. Almost everything is supplied, with a set of Slaters wheels, paints and transfers being required. Talking of which, I've just received a jolly nice set of transfers from Railtec Models, using some impressive-sounding new printing gear - I'm looking forward to trying them out.

Although the wagon was more-or-less complete after a couple of afternoons, a few more days will be spent on the painting and weathering and I'm thinking of scratch-building a set of wooden bolsters and a mock steel load. A full demo feature and appraisal will appear in issue 226 of Model Rail magazine, on sale 11 August.

Monday, 25 July 2016


An exercise in brake van weathering. 

It's been a while since I last worked on a brake van, so I decided to try something different with this Bachmann model. The aim was to replicate the subtle tonal shifts between the various planks, as seen on the real things in the 1970s/80s. Visible beneath the layers of accumulated grime, there was usually the odd replacement plank in a different colour, plus rust patches on the steel-clad lookout pod and handrails, dirty windows and a distinctive texture to the surface of the chassis frames.

For an evening's work, it's turned out pretty well. As it was something of an experiment, the other side of the van is still in it's immaculate factory finish, which will have to be treated and blended with the rest of the vehicle in due course. 

The various techniques that I've employed will be explained in a book that I'm currently working on. Details will appear here in time...