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.