Tuesday, 24 October 2017


 Layout gains a superior 'case', lighting rig and fiddleyard.

My tiny fictional, rural idyll of Lisburn Lane station has finally received a full plywood case, which has given the largely MDF structure more rigidity and resilience. I also took the opportunity to install an integral lighting rig, having been inspired by the methods of my Model Rail colleague, Chris Nevard

With a viewing portal cut into the frontage, the layout instantly looks more convincing (and professional!) and the plywood frame now needs painting in a suitably neutral shade. After repairing some areas of damaged track (as described in Model Rail issue 240), fiddleyards are now under construction - one for each side of the scenic section.

Hopefully, I'll actually have a fully working layout before Christmas, although there's still some wiring to do. And then there's the scenery to finish...

Thursday, 19 October 2017


Grounded brake van has seen better days.

I knocked-up this excellent laser-cut kit the other day, from Ancorton Models. It's been on my to-do list for a year or two, so it's good to finally see it built and installed. 

Assembly took only an hour or so, having treated the wooden parts to various shades of oil-based wood dye beforehand. Picking out the individual planks in contrasting shades has proved worthwhile. It's looking very much at home in this corner of a goods yard, although I think I'll train some climbing vegetation up the walls to give it an even more neglected appearance. I had great fun building and finishing it - just the thing for a chilly, autumn evening by the fire!

Friday, 13 October 2017


Brush Type 2 ready for service.

Here are some images of my finished Class 31/4. As mentioned previously, I've been working on a Hornby model, adding plenty of extra detail and applying a full repaint. The etched bogie footsteps and other delicate details from a PH Design kit have added plenty of finesse to the model, while a careful paint job - using a variety of shades of BR blue and yellow, rather then flat coats - forms the icing on the cake, so to speak. 

I've cut back on my loco detailing and repainting work recently, due mostly to boredom (doing too much of one thing is never a good idea) but this project has reinvigorated me a little.  

You can see how the model was created in the next issue of Model Rail magazine (MR241), on sale next week.

Friday, 6 October 2017


Chasing Class 37s in Cumbria.

I've made it something of a mission to get out and about a bit more this year, chasing a number of locomotive and multiple units whose days may be numbered - at least on their present duties. Some are more glamorous than others - Great Western HSTs v Class 143 Pacers, for example. While others are just for the fun of it, such as Class 37 haulage in Cumbria and Norfolk.

While Norfolk is one heck of a treck from Dent Towers, Cumbria is a lot closer to home so I've become something of a regular beside the line at various spots, awaiting the familiar growl of an English Electric Type 3. Mind you, a few times, especially on the stretch west of Barrow, the '37+Mk2' combo has seen a DMU substitute, which has been a bit of an anticlimax, to say the least. 

But, when you're in such attractive surroundings, on a sunny day, who can really complain...?

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Town gas works due for demolition.

Built for a one-off cover shoot and magazine feature, Parpinton Gas Works was simply a scenic diorama on a sheet of thick MDF. With no reinforcing structure or protective shell, it was inevitable that it would be prone to damage while stored in a very untidy and dirty garage. Although I've used it for a few more photo shoots in the past year, for other magazine and book projects, the number of unblemished buildings and scenery were getting fewer, so I decided to cut my losses and consign the model to history.

Virtually everything bar the track and ground cover has been salvaged for re-use. Indeed, most of the structures had already been employed on numerous other layouts and dioramas - I hate to throw anything away.

Before the demolition team moved in, though, there was just time for the last rail movement along the High Street, as a 'Pug' hauled away wagons of unburnt coal from the closed works' stockpiles. As soon as the last wagon clears the entrance, the huge wooden gates will be shut for the final time.