Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Stone-Cast Shed Under Repair

While rummaging through the attic, I came across a wonderful goods shed that I built over a decade ago, from a Townstreet Models stone-cast kit. Featuring in the pages of Model Rail magazine sometime in 2005 – as well as a DVD – the finished building never made it onto a proper layout. Confined to a box for ‘safe’ storage, the model has suffered a fair bit of damage over the years, not helped by three house moves in that time.

I thought it was high time that it saw some TLC and an improved painted finish. The original finish was created mostly by oil-based wood dyes, this being an excellent means of colouring bare plaster components. Alas, due to the amount of repair work necessary, the use of adhesives effectively seals the porous material, rendering dyes pretty useless. Indeed, the sections of the kit were treated with the dyes before assembly, for just this reason.

As well as repairing damaged walls and broken details, I also took the chance to fill some of the many gaps in the joints, something I neglected to do first time around. Deluxe Materials’ Create & Shape proved just the thing for working into the gaps, as well as building up missing areas of masonry. Once dry, the Create & Shape can be sanded and scribed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding relief. 

The canopy and platform have seen the most remedial work and, even before the shed has been repainted, it's looking much better already. The internal goods loading platform has gone missing, so I need to scratch-build another and I may take the opportunity to add some extra interior details and lighting. Hopefully, the building will find a home on a layout some day - it certainly deserves to be used.

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As my main passion is for the 1980s era of British Rail, most of the earlier Class 08s had been – or were about to be – withdrawn by the late ‘80s.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.