Thursday, 23 February 2017


Prestige observation car provides a challenge.

I've spent the last two weeks working on an interesting vehicle in the luxury Belmond Royal Scotsman tourist train. Based on a BR Mk1 Pullman car from the 1960s, the real carriage was substantially rebuilt in the 1990s, gaining a covered veranda at one end, from which passengers can enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands.

In order to achieve as accurate a model as possible, I had to graft sections of two separate Bachmann Pullman cars together, which proved great fun. The veranda was created from an excellent etched kit that's currently under development by Extreme Etchings/Shawplan. This builds into a surprisingly rugged, self-contained unit, that sits snugly under the roof.

Alas, I ran out of time before I could scratch-build a whole new interior, so I quickly modified the existing plastic moulding for now. The real thing boasts an array of comfortable sofas and armchairs, rather than banks of fixed seating. But that's a job for another day.

The transfers are from the Railtec range, who can supply everything required for the entire train formation, including the locomotives. A full step-by-step guide as to how the model was created is appearing in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (233), out on March 9.

The elegant livery really suits the ex-BR Mk1s.

Monday, 13 February 2017


'Tugs' and 'Sheds' rest on shed.

Moving into the 21st Century, an array of EWS (and DB) branded traction looks well at home in the depot environs. Indeed, I had the early 2000s in mind when I first built this diorama, although it was built to show off my DRS- and EWS-clad Class 37s more than anything! Note the shabby Class 60s with their faded numbers and lettering, while the Class 66 has had the EWS letters removed and DB stickers applied to the cabsides. 

The trusty old Hornby plastic MPD kit (the building on the left) looks great for the addition of custom-etched window frames from PH Designs, while the Bachmann Scenecraft ready-to-plant shed on the right provides a convincing companion. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017


A South Wales theme for diesel depot.

The 1980s is my core era in terms of personal recollection and active enthusiasm; a time of changing colours and practices, but with plenty of everyday interest and variety to be enjoyed across much of the UK. As the drab plain blue livery gave way to brighter Inter City and Railfreight schemes and many vintage diesel and electric classes being run down, it's a decade that brings equal amounts of nostalgia and sorrow.

With a line up of Welsh '37s', plus a stray Class 31 off a Speedlink working, this could be somewhere near Cardiff in the mid-80s, as the locos rest between coal and steel workings.

Monday, 6 February 2017


Depot diorama goes back in time.

For the first time in over a year, I managed to extract the crate containing modern diesel depot diorama that had been buried against the rear wall of the garage. I'd been worrying that the MDF baseboards would be going mouldy in the damp conditions but, luckily, they seem to be OK. While the diorama was accessible, I thought I'd take the opportunity to stage a photo shoot, with a variety of traction. First up was a selection of BR Western Region diesels from the 1970s era.

It's nice to see a number of these models out of their boxes for a change. However, I wish that I'd built this as a working layout rather than a static diorama. Maybe I'll have to rebuild it as part of a new layout one day...?

Thursday, 2 February 2017


'N' gauge tanks wagons get the weathering treatment.

With the next issue of Model Rail magazine due out next week (9 Feb), here's a sneak preview of a pair of modern tank wagons that appear in the Workbench pages. Using the supremely realistic 'N' gauge models from Revolution Trains (manufactured on their behalf by Rapido), a number of layers of weathering have been built up, using a variety of oil paints and dry pigments, avoiding the use of an airbrush altogether.

While the lack of an airbrush was a self-imposed constraint, I'd have liked to finesse a couple of aspects of the finish, especially the stains from the filling hatches. But, other than this, I feel that the exercise has been successful. The VTG tank in particular has benefitted from a slightly different approach, receiving washes of various blue shades, in order to add some tonal variety.

The whole process will be demonstrated in full in Model Rail issue 232. Don't miss it!!