Monday, 22 February 2016


Playing around with reverse loops.

While preparing the next instalment of the Model Rail guide to layout wiring, due to appear in issue MR220, I've managed to cram a double 'N' gauge reverse loop into a 4ftx3ft space. The curves aren't perfect and the fiddly, finescale track proved tricky to work with, especially in a dimly lit garage! But, the electrics worked perfectly, allowing me to isolate each loop and reverse the polarity via a couple of toggle switches. In fact, the wiring bit proved far more enjoyable than the track laying, taking about a fifth of the time...

Running the lovely Farish DMU and Class 24 round the loops and onto a short length of test track has proven rather addictive. Indeed, I'm in the early stages of planning an entirely new layout project, possibly in 'N', and I'm giving serious consideration to including just such a reverse loop. 

It's a shame that this will have to be ripped up soon - I need my woodwork bench back. But I'll just have another few goes with the little trains first...!

Friday, 19 February 2016


 Ex-Airfix kit ready for first service.

I still can't quite believe that the moulds for this plastic kit date back to the late 1950s, especially as everything fitted together perfectly. The only upgrades that the Dapol kit has received are laser-cut roof tiles from York Modelmaking and stained glass windows from Langley Models. I also reduced the overall length of the building by an inch or so, to allow it to fit into the space I had available. Indeed, at only 180mm, it's provided a perfect corner filler on an old layout that I'm currently refurbishing.

A fair amount of effort was put into the painting and finishing stages, to help bring out the best of the moulded relief on the walls, as well as the extra roof detail. Now set into a scenic location, the building has really come to life.

Look out for a full demo in Model Rail magazine, issue 220 (on sale 10 March)...

Friday, 12 February 2016


Model Rail exclusive model enters the Dent Workshop.

It's taken a while but, oh boy, has it been worth it! Our exclusive 'OO' gauge USA 0-6-0Ts, produced for Model Rail by Bachmann Branchline, have reached the final livery sample stage and should be going into production very soon. This particular sample, ref. no. MR016, depicts 30071 in later BR guise and is to be produced with a weathered finish. As you can see, though, it ain't dirty - yet!

The sample has been given a head-start, with slightly faded black and red livery elements, while I've been given the job of spraying a guide weathering job, so that the folks in the factory can copy it. Jobs like this can be deceptively complicated, as everything I do must be easily replicated by workers on a production line, using a maximum of three shades of paint (of which I also have to produce swatches so they can be matched accurately). I also have to produce written instructions, detailing the order of application, etc. 

With this being the only sample of this particular model, I only get one shot, so it has to be right first time - no pressure! But, before I start mucking it up, take a look at the excellent levels of detail and finish. We're all very excited about these models and, if you fancy one, you'd better get your order in, as the pre-orders are selling fast. 

To order your USA tank, call 01209 613984 or go to   

Thursday, 11 February 2016


It's that time of the month again, with copies of the latest Model Rail hitting the shelves today. As usual, it's packed with inspiration, news and practical techniques. 

And check out some great Bookazine offers too, with a range of Model Rail special issues available individually or in bargain bundles. Click HERE for more info...

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Sunday, 7 February 2016


A brief diversion, figuratively speaking...

Yesterday, the Postie delivered a package crammed full of exciting military figure kits from Master Box, in a variety of scales. I've been planning a bit of figure modelling for a while, hoping it will improve my painting and weathering, especially using manual techniques (as opposed to airbrush work). I've also been yearning to work on an equine subject or two, partly due to my love of the real things, but also because I remember my Dad building and painting some exquisite Napoleonic cavalry figures when I was a kid, so it's about time that I had a go too!

But, while I await some spare time for my horsey/cavalry dalliances, I've come up with an idea for one of the 1:35 scale WWI 'Tommies'. Given that 2016 is the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, some form of memorial was devised. Look out for further progress soon...

Thursday, 4 February 2016


In praise of a venerable plastic kit.

After a recent chat with my colleague Chris Leigh, I decided to dig out an old Dapol plastic kit that I've had in the stash for years. Depicting a delightful, Norman-style church, the kit was originally released by Airfix in the 1950s. Based on a real building located on the Isle of Wight, the plastic parts still offer an excellent route to recreating a typical rural place of worship - at a bargain price too (less than a tenner!).

Only a little filler has been required so far and, now that it has received a primer coat, I'm thinking of improving the roof with some laser-cut tiles that I already have in stock. I'll also be needing some stained-glass windows, but I'm sure I have something lying around that will do the trick....