Thursday, 28 January 2016


Newspaper van conversion.

OK, so it's just a Mk1 GUV, sporting a repaint and BR Newspapers logo. Or is it...?

Look closely and you'll note that the flat ends have been replaced with a bow profile, complete with gangways and vents. The small frosted window at the far end suggests that a WC compartment has also been installed. A good number of standard GUVs were thus converted in the early 1980s for use in newspaper trains, where the gangways allowed for sorting en route, with bundles of papers dropped off at intermediate stations for onward transport to newsagents. 

Using a Bachmann Mk1 GUV as a base, the conversion project proved great fun - so much so that I'm planning on repeating the trick on at least two more vehicles. When, though, is anyone's guess! I'm particularly pleased with the paint job, with there being about eight slightly different shades of blue applied. It's very subtle, and the photo doesn't really show it off to full effect, but in the flesh, it looks very convincing - typical '80s era patina. And just how I remember seeing them.

Monday, 25 January 2016


Mk1 conversion project adds variety.

I've been putting the finishing touches to more coaching stock projects, in order to stage some photo portraits for my new book. Illustrated here is a conversion of a Bachmann Mk1 suburban into an otherwise unavailable Composite Lavatory (CL) coach. Using etched side overlays, I've also re-modelled the roof, ends and replaced the chunky original chassis with a superior offering. 

There's still a couple of things I need to tweak, but it's about 95% finished. A load of passengers is the most glaring omission, but there's only so many little peeps that I can paint at a time without going mad.

While this project has allowed me to create a more interesting train of non-gangwayed Mk1s, the refined chassis, lovely deep carmine livery (Railmatch enamel) and all-round finesse, makes the bog standard Bachmann models look pretty average, especially as the shade of red differs across nearly every vehicle in my rake! Am I going to have to treat all four other coaches to the same level of finish...? 

The unmodified Bachmann Mk1 sub to the right has been titivated slightly, with the biggest improvement offered by a pack of Laser Glaze, from Shawplan.

Friday, 22 January 2016


 Fun and games at Langley Farm halt.

In a recent-ish issue of Model Rail (MR212), I set about converting my latest mini layout to DCC control, as a way of testing whether I (a) could do it, and (b) liked the new way of control. Well, the answer to a and b were 'yes'. But...

And it's turned out to be a big 'but'. While digital control offers many benefits, one of the joys of running a layout is to simply plonk anything from my collection onto the rails, turn a knob and watch it move. Alas, with only a couple of DCC-fitted locos and an unwillingness to shell out any cash or spend the time converting everything else, means that running this layout has become pretty dull. 

My mind was made up when I dug out this observation saloon (to which I fitted working lights) and a Bachmann Class 25 that I upgraded as part of my Model Rail interview 12 years ago. How nice they look. BUT, they won't work. Well, not properly anyway, until I fit a chip. And I honestly can't be bothered. Looks like Langley Farm is about to revert to good old fashioned analogue control. 

Now, where's that soldering iron...?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Metropolitan Railway carriage kit complete - at last!

Started nearly 12 months ago, I've finally completed this 'OO' model of a Metropolitan Railway brake carriage. Consisting of a number of 3D printed components, it has taken lots of work to get the surfaces to a satisfactory finish - one of the lingering issues with this production process - but the effort has been worth it.

The polished wood finish also took a while to get right, while the lining wasn't exactly a quick job either. Very glad that I opted to only make one of these, rather than a full train! It just needs a compliment of suitably attired passengers to add the final touch.  

Previous Blog posts on this subject - with details of the kit's source - can be found here, here and here... However, for a thorough description and demonstration of the building, painting and lining, look out for my forthcoming book on modelling carriages, published by Crowood Press, later this year. 
Lining-out with a vintage ruling pen - a recent gift from Mrs D. I originally lined the lowermost panels in error - the perils of working from black & white images...

Almost ready for service, awaiting glazing and final assembly.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Scrap wagon loads created from... scrap!

Here's a quick look at a fleet of scrap metal wagons that I've created for the latest issue of Model Rail magazine (MR218 - on sale tomorrow). To keep with the theme of waste material being re-processed, these removable loads have been created from plastic salvaged from left-over kit parts, chopped up, painted and weathered accordingly. They were great fun to create, so much so that I've just bought another handful of Bachmann wagons to extend the rake further. The weathering of the wagons was also very rewarding, using a mix of acrylic paints and dry pigments (no airbrushes involved for a change!).