Thursday, 12 May 2011

Tuning up the Bagpipes

Filming for the next Model Rail DVD was wrapped up yesterday, with the last half-dozen segments completed. It just needs editing and scripting now, so we're still aiming for a summer 2011 release. We also filmed a short section for a later programme (how's that for organisation?!), demonstrating some quick and easy ways to weather cement wagons.

Back to the main programme, however, and the above Class 33/1 enjoyed a short cameo role after a rapid, late night re-numbering detailing and painting session the night before. After reading in a recent magazine article (can't remember where or when), the statement of the author regarding the Heljan 33/1 stuck in my mind. He'd said that it was one of the best models of recent years, in his opinion and, with a couple 'in stock' for possible future projects, I was moved to dig one of them out for the DVD project.

It's a few years since they hit the shelves now and, having worked on a couple of them not so long ago (converting them to 33/0s), I'd almost forgotten about them. Not least as they're out of my 'region', so to speak. However, with an open mind, I took BR blue D6520 out of the box. As with many Heljan diesels, straight out of the packaging, they can look a little bland and the unpainted lamp irons (black plastic) get on my nerves a little. But, with an hour's worth of tweaks and a weathered finish, the model really comes alive.

One of the main improvements was the central windscreen. The pop-out glazing looks much better for running a black marker pen around the outer edge to remove the prismatic effect of light reflecting off the corners of the plastic. Touching in the relevant front end details with paint also makes a massive difference. A set of PH Designs etched brass bogie steps also offer a dramatic shift in the loco's appearance - see a review of these in a forthcoming Model Rail.

New etched footsteps are fun to build and make a big difference to the underframe.

They might be a test of your eyesight and soldering skilss, but they're worth it!

Re-numbered as TOPS 33118, the 33/1 is all ready for the weathering process.

So, having re-acquainted myself with the Danish 33/1, I've been reminded of just what a nice model it is, especially after a modest bit of enhancement. I wonder how good the Rail Exclusive 33/0 will be when it appears... if it's anywhere near as good as the 33/1, then it'll be worth the money. I've always had a soft spot for the 33s, especially as a Lima Crompton was my first 'real' model loco as I progressed from my first trainset. It was 33056 The Burma Star - bought from G&I Models in Warrington for £13.95 (new!) in 1986 - the day is etched in my memory! I still have the model, although I converted it to a Class 26 a few years later.

I only ever saw one 33 in my spotting days. 33019, I think it was, on a Manchester-Cardiff service at Crewe in the late 1980s. Maybe I should recreate it in miniature one of these days...?

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