Friday, 21 July 2017


Cute little tram engine built in 'N' gauge.

The Summer issue of Model Rail magazine hits the shelves next week (July 27) and features my illustrated build of this great little steam tram engine in 2mm scale. Built from a whitemetal kit, produced by N-Drive Productions, it features a pre-assembled chassis, with only the bodywork requiring assembly and painting. There's no need for soldering or any complicated wiring - just glue the bits together, paint it and drop the chassis inside. Easy!

Having recently worked on an 'O' gauge Class 08, facing such a contrasting scale more-or-less straightaway proved somewhat challenging. But that's all part of the fun. The loco has now been packed up and will soon be on its way to my Model Rail colleague Peter Marriott, who's building a Wisbech & Upwell Tramway-inspired layout.

The loco should have its number applied to the bufferbeam, but I struggled to find any decals small enough!

At only a couple of centimetres long, this is one tiny model loco - yet it runs very well.

Monday, 17 July 2017


Plastic kit avoids the breaker's yard.

I was rummaging inside a box of scenic accessories and came across a kit-built lorry that I built a couple of decades ago. Alas, it was in several pieces, the cab in particular suffering from severe crush damage.

My first impulse was to shrug and confine it to the bin or, at best, salvage some of the parts for future use as scenic scrap. However, I thought better of it and decided to set about repairing the damage - and I'm glad that I did!

The cab front was rebuilt with plastic strip, which was a bit fiddly, but otherwise the job was easy enough and a useful way to spend a few rainy summer evenings. The paint/weathering job was comprehensive and far better than my original handiwork (pre-airbrush days!), although I reprised the handsome green and white livery. It could do with branding, but I haven't settled on a haulier's name yet. Perhaps 'Dent Salvage'?!

With the Coopercraft kit complete, a sheeted cargo was created using a stone-cast load from Ten Commandments, covered with the wrapping from a chocolate biscuit, duly painted and weathered. It took a few attempts - and biscuits - to get this looking just right...
Painting almost complete - note the sponge shoved into the cab to protect the pre-painted interior. Individual panes of 'glass' were cut from clear styrene and flush-fitted into the frames with Johnsons Klear.

Note the real wood veneer added to the load bed, cut into separate planks and secured with strong double-sided tape. Dilute enamel washes then give the wood a suitably grimy aspect.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


'O' Gauge 'Gronk' recalls the late-1980s era.

Those of you who have already seen the latest issue of Model Rail (MR237) will have seen the finished results of my project to modify, repaint and weather one of Dapol's superb Class 08s. Here are a few images of 08434 anyway, as I'm as proud of this model as I am of any of my previous efforts. Constituting my first real foray into serious loco detailing/modifying in 7mm scale, it proved to be great fun and a very rewarding challenge.

The view above shows the side where most of the work was centred, in the removal of a forward equipment box and re-building of the bonnet-side doors, along with the removal of strap hinges and fabrication of new hinge detail and locking handles. The cab front also needed work, with the central lamp boxes and conduit removed, holes filled and the 'wasp' stripes repainted.

The choice of number and the addition of unofficial, painted-on Midland names places the loco at Tinsley Shed (near Sheffield) in the late 1980s. The decals were produced by Railtec and help to give the 'Gronk' a distinct character.

I'm often asked about what airbrush equipment I use when working in different scales. The answer is usually the same as when I'm working in my usual 4mm scale. With 'O' gauge, it simply takes a bit longer to cover the larger model!

A good compressor is essential, though, as the airbrush will be working for longer and the last thing we need is the unit having to shut down for an enforced rest mid-painting. My Iwata Smart Jet Pro has been proving its worth over the last year or two. Despite not having an air tank, it proved to be up to the job of painting and weathering this small 'O' gauge model.

As for the airbrushes, the priming coats were sprayed through an Iwata Revolution CR (0.5mm needle/nozzle combo), which emits a nice, ample spray pattern to cover a larger surface, while also being simple to clean out afterwards (the heavy pigments of primers demand greater cleanliness). If I'd been painting a generic livery application, the CR would have done for the blue coats too.

However, as explained in an earlier post (and in MR237), the blue was built up in various high- and low-light shades, following the contours and detail on the bodyshell. With greater precision required, an Iwata HP-CH (with 0.3mm nozzle) proved more suitable, allowing full control over the paint flow. The airbrushed element of the weathering process was also achieved with the HP-CH, using Tamiya acrylics.

Next up, as far as 'O' gauge is concerned, is to build a new Heljan modular diesel depot kit...

Monday, 3 July 2017


1970s DMU gets the weathering treatment.

In an effort to get my workshop into some semblance of order, I spent the weekend packing up previous projects - those completed and those abandoned (or 'paused'!) - for safe storage in the attic. One of the things I came across was this lovely Bachmann Class 108 2-car DMU, in the less-than-practical 1970s scheme of white and blue.

Applied to units fresh from mid-life refurbishment, the brown underframes and dark grey roofs were a wise choice, partly obscuring the grime that inevitably accumulated in these areas. The bright white sides and yellow ends did get rather grubby, though, despite the planned regular cleaning regimen. 

It would be easy to give this DMU a heavy layer of grime, as I would with some plain blue DMUs but, as even the slightest addition will show up on the stark background, a more restrained approach was needed.

The yellow ends were treated to washes, using slightly lighter shades of yellow artists' oil paints, imparting a slightly faded, washed-out look. The sides and ends were then given a wash coat using MIG's Neutral Wash, a mid-grey shade of enamel wash, designed for use on white and lighter backgrounds. This toned down the bodywork to a satisfying degree. Slightly darker washes were then carefully run into the door seams to bring out the detail relief further.

With this groundwork complete, the airbrush came out and a light misting along the lower and upper edges of the sides and ends was affected. Heavier deposits were sprayed onto the chassis and roof, and hey presto! The process was recorded in full in a new book that is due to be published later this month - more about that soon...

I took the opportunity to populate the interior with train crew and passengers, while also installing a set of laser-cut gangway bellows, from York Modelmaking, which finishes off the DMU nicely. 

The unit is now safely packed away, awaiting a layout on which to run - hopefully that won't be too far away. But I've been saying that to myself for years now...!