Monday, 6 June 2011

Bubble Car on its Way

Well, the answer to the teaser posed in the last but one posting is...
The ‘sort of’ museum piece is the Class 08 (being repainted as the NRM’s 08911 Matey, the fictional model is the Turbostar in Merseyrail livery (more on these two projects at a later date) and the ex-Lima model is the Class 122 DMU...

... Talking of which, I posted some images of an old single car Lima DMU conversion, that I’d un-earthed from the recesses of my attic, some time last year. As the conversion work was carried out when I was a teenager (or was it my brother who did it – I can’t remember!), it was a little rough around the edges. So, a bath in Superstrip was in order, but this predictably resulted in the breakdown of the glue joints, leaving me with a kit of parts. Not a problem, just an opportunity for another interesting project.

Having recently come across an image of an olive green departmental ‘bubble car’, I fancied having a go at recreating this prototype. Now, I could have just used a Hornby Cl121 single car unit, but it seemed a waste of this 1980s vintage Lima bodyshell and Craftsman Models conversion kit. So, the dye was cast and a protracted project ensued. But at least it hasn’t cost me more than a few quid!

These etched Lion Roar scribing stencils are perfect for adding recessed panel lines or marking out for cutting out apertures. Use a sharp embroidery pin in a pin vice to follow the inside of the stencils. These lines will act as a guide when drilling and filing away the aperture.

One aspect of the original conversion that had to be addressed was the fact that the former gangway end of the single car that had been turned into a second cab had the door and window cut into the wrong place. Much filling and sanding ensued before a sharp pin in a pin vice and some fabulous etched scribing guides from Lion Roar allowed for a quick re-scribe of the window and door frame. Available in various shapes and sizes, these guides are aimed at military and aviation modellers but they’re equally helpful to us railway buffs. They’re available from The Airbrush Company (

Along with the removal of the destination boxes at each end, new exhaust pipes were needed in the correct shape of the prototype. In keeping with the ‘budget’ nature of this conversion, I made use of some single core copper wire (salvaged from off-cuts of some ‘twin & earth’ cable left over from rewiring my shed!), with brackets cut from electrician’s tape.

At the moment, the model is waiting patiently for its turn in the weathering queue, followed by glazing (the Flushglaze pack arrived in the post this morning!) and assembly, using a chassis from a Hornby Class 121. I’d like a set of Ultrascale wheels in due course but this may have to wait for a while. A full demo of the detailing work will appear in Model Rail later in the year, whilst the painting of it will feature in the forthcoming Model Rail DVD... stay tuned for more info...

It must have been the late 1980s when this conversion was carried out, although I did repaint the model sometime in the mid-90s. Many years later, the model still has a use, although a replacement motor will be needed.

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