Monday, 12 June 2017


'O' gauge 'Gronk' in the works.

When Dapol’s ‘O’ gauge Class 08 appeared late last year, I couldn’t wait to get hold of a BR blue version, primarily with an eye on an enjoyable weathering project. Recreating that shabby look, with leaking fuel and oil stains and faded blue paintwork, would provide a welcome challenge. 

As things panned out, I ended up having to do some significant modification work to the bodyshell in order to recreate a later version of the ‘08’. As my main passion is for the 1980s era of British Rail, most of the earlier Class 08s had been – or were about to be – withdrawn by the late ‘80s.

Dapol’s sole ‘08’ bodyshell tooling portrays the early pattern of bonnet doors, with long, chunky strap hinges, so these would need cutting away and replacing with low profile hinge detail. Moreover, one of the louvred equipment cabinets on the running plate also had to go, meaning that three of the doors would need extending to full height.

Instead of a knife, I used one of my woodcarving chisels to remove the raised hinge detail. A shallow No. 4 sweep (London Pattern) proved the most effective, being less prone to 'digging in' than a regular knife blade.
A few other detail tweaks were also necessary, including removing some of the headlamps and the radiator access ladders. I could have gone further with the detailing work, but time was a factor and, to be honest, I just wanted to get on and weather the thing.

Due to the nature of the modifications, I’ve had to repaint most of the bodyshell, so the opportunity was taken to create highlights and lowlights in the paintwork, as a prelude to the weathering job. Using a few different shades of Railmatch BR Rail Blue (the darker shade tinted with Railmatch Weathered Black), including Railmatch’s pre-faded shade, some careful airbrushing work guided the paint shades into specific areas.
New bonnet door panels have been added from thin plastic card. 
Incidentally, I employed a fine airbrush for the job, despite the model’s large scale. An Iwata HP-HC, with a 0.3mm nozzle/needle combo, allowed me to target the paint accurately. An Iwata Revolution CR (0.5mm needle) took care of the primer and clear coats, where a more general, dispersed spray pattern was required.

I’m just waiting on the clear gloss coats to cure fully before adding the decals. Once they’re in place, I can get on with the rest of the weathering. Look out for the full feature in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR237), out on June 29th...

Thursday, 1 June 2017


Trio of Class 47s get the Tinsley treatment.

UK railway enthusiasts of a certain age and geographic base (northern England and the Midlands), will likely recall the intriguing unofficial names received by a wide range of diesel locomotives in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Decked out by the enthusiastic staff at Tinsley depot (near Sheffield), the names were often accompanied by crests or logos of one sort or another. I've not a clue what a lot of the names alluded to, while others were inspired by classical myths or local legends, it seems.

Anyway, the subjects for the latest three additions to my Class 47 fleet are plain blue 47323 The Jostinot, large logo blue 47450 Blackbuck and Railfreight-liveried 47367 Kenny Cockbird. The latter is unusual in being named after another BR depot's pet emblem, Stratford's Cockney sparrow. 
Apart from 47450, the locos have been fully repainted and all of the decals are from the Precision Labels range, which proved to be up to their usual high standards of accuracy and performance, giving a realistic painted-on appearance. Clearly a lot of research has gone into these decal packs, which include all numbers, data panels, names and crests, with only BR arrows and overhead warning flashes sourced elsewhere (all from Fox). There are tons of Tinsley name packs available, for various loco classes: see the Precision website for details.

Thursday, 18 May 2017


 Cheap 'toy' transformed in an evening.

I picked up a couple of die-cast toys in a supermarket a while back, thinking that they may be worth a little attention one day. With a coal loading diorama on the cards, now seemed a good time to dig out the bull dozer and see what could be done with it. Looking pretty close to 1:76 scale ('OO' gauge), the yellow rubber tracks were removed and the whole thing treated to successive layers of weathering, starting with an overall coat of matt varnish. Without this initial step, not much would cling to the shiny, high gloss paintwork.

Enamel washes, acrylic paints, dry pigments and metallic wax-type paints were subsequently applied by hand brush and cotton swabs. After painting, the tracks were replaced, dusted with dry pigments and dry-brushed to give a metallic edge. A tiny amount of airbrush work gave the roof and upper surfaces a fine, dusty texture. All in all, it took about two - very enjoyable - hours. Oh, and the model cost me £1!

Friday, 12 May 2017


After 6 months, Deutz Magirus truck is finally complete!

Having felt like a break from trains, I've been spending the winter evenings building a few road vehicle kits. Started way back in December, this wonderful 1:35 scale ICM kit is the first to be completed. Based on a late 1940s Deutz Magirus truck, the kit has been customised with scratch-built engine detail and hand-scribed wood grain texture on the rear bodywork.

The latter modification was the most time-consuming (and mind-numbing), with the work spread over several evenings. Once painted and weathered (with Lifecolor's Weathered Wood set of acrylic paints and AK Interactive enamel washes), all that hard work paid off, with a much more faithful rendition of bare timber.  

This was a fantastic kit and a joy to assemble. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I ordered another, which will be built with a few alterations to the bonnet and cargo area...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


 Rusty Effects Bring Ship To Life.

My esteemed Model Rail colleague, Chris Leigh, presented me with a challenge recently: to add the final touches to his 1:76 scale scratch-built rendition of Wallbrook, a former coastal freighter converted to a dredging vessel. It's taken a few weeks to get this far, starting with much of the ship's hand-applied paintwork re-done with an airbrush, adding lots of high- and low-lights for a suitably washed-out look. The big green silt hopper received a lot of attention, as did the crane, which is a die-cast model that has been stripped, repainted and modified.

However, the hull has demanded the most time and effort, getting the distinctive corrosion streaks and grey/green hues of the paintwork and algae deposits right. Modelmates Rust Paint was employed, bushed liberally onto the surface in a couple of layers. When dry, the surface can be manipulated with a damp cotton swab, creating streaks with a wide variety of hues and textures.

Helpfully, the Modelmates paint always remains water-soluble so, if you're not happy you can re-work the streaks or remove them altogether and start again. When satisfied, simply seal the finish with clear matt varnish before adding layers of washes and airbushed weathering to finish things off. Easy!!

Modelmates Rust Paint was built up in several layers. The paint dries to a distinctive texture and the hue is governed by how many coats are built up.
All you need is a damp swab to manipulate the Rust Paint, creating a series of vertical streaks and varying the  shades of the corrosion.

Thursday, 27 April 2017


Trio of Class 47s Mark Railfreight's 30th Anniversary

We’re marking a number of anniversaries in the latest issue of Model Rail this month, including 30 years since the introduction of Railfreight sectorisation. Marking a radical departure from previous British Rail practice and livery schemes, the new corporate identity was formulated by a leading design consultancy – Roundel – who had built up an impressive portfolio of projects for many leading household names and brands.

While the base livery of triple-grey was not the most ground-breaking, the various sub-sector logos, rendered in primary colours and using simple symbols and no wording, was a brave choice. Instantly recognisable and distinctive, it gave the state-owned railway's freight sector a modern, corporate look. Not surprising really, considering that privatisation was not far off.

To celebrate the scheme’s 30th birthday, a trio of Class 47s has been employed to demonstrate how to apply the livery from scratch or to amend an existing factory finish. There’s plenty of choice amongst paint and decal suppliers, such is the enduring popularity of this livery and I’ve used a mix of transfers from Fox, Replica and Railtec. Incidentally, all etched nameplates, depot plaques and BR logos are from Fox.

My particular favourite is 47311 Warrington Yard. Using a Bachmann model, already sporting the triple-grey scheme, I removed the Metals sector logos in favour of pre-faded Railfreight Distribution symbols, courtesy of Fox Transfers. Warrington Yard was one of my main youthful spotting haunts and I remember seeing this loco regularly around the turn of the 1990s. Incidentally, the name was transferred to another '47' soon afterwards, 47311 having suffered an accident and withdrawal.

47079 is also a noteworthy prototype, being one of the locomotives used during the livery’s launch in October 1987, at Ripple Lane depot. Having previously been turned out in lined green as part of the recent GWR 150 event, its sudden repaint caused not a little controversy. My model depicts ‘079 a few years later, since re-allocated to Cardiff Canton depot.

See a full demo in the next issue of Model Rail (MR235), out on 4 May.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Bright Red ‘Sheds’ Finished in Latest Liveries.

Observers of the contemporary railway will have noticed the shift towards a more austere form of corporate identity for Deutsche Bahn locomotives in the UK. Having re-branded itself from DB Schenker to DB Cargo, locomotives and wagons have been emerging with simple DB branding, in common with stock operating on the European mainland.

The bright red and grey livery is certainly eye-catching, especially when a freshly painted locomotive is seen hauling a complete rake of matching red wagons. Having looked into the subject of banking locomotives recently (issue 234 of Model Rail magazine), the idea of recreating one of the DB Class 66s equipped for Tebay banking duties appealed. Having approached John at Precision Labels for a set of suitable decals, he suggested also modelling 66136, with its special scheme commemorating the Yiwu (China) to London overland freight service, which seemed like a great idea.

Using both a Bachmann and a Hornby 66, the re-branding didn’t take long and Precision Labels also supplied sets of 3D-printed side mirrors and swing-knuckle couplers, making the job complete. The spotlights fitted to Tebay banker 66055 were scratchbuilt from plastic rod and brass wire – fitting working LEDs seemed like a step too far!

See a full demo in the next issue of Model Rail (MR235), out on 4 May.

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