Thursday, 29 April 2010

Ever expanding PVA

This is from a still-born project for a Class 59/2 in P4 using a Life Like Proto 1000 PA-1 loco as a basis to provide a powerful all wheel drive model which could handle the sort of loads which the real locos could. However, two things have put pay to this.

Firstly the article on the latest ModelRail on rebuilding a 59 using Bachmann's 66 chassis as basis by one well known member of RMweb and secondly a problem with PVA...

As you can see it has expanded over the last three years and distorted the chassis frame. This problem is well documented in the letters page of Model Railway Journal but I filled the fuel tank with 'Liquid Lead' secured with diluted PVA some time before this first appeared. If I recall correctly the PVA reacts in someway with the lead causing the expansion. Here it's ruined one chassis frame but it must be heart-breaking to see one of your kitbuilt locos ruined by this. So I'm back to old methods using scrap lead flashing and Araldite!

All is not lost though, the remaining parts of the Class 59 will see reuse in the future as I would love a decent National Power Class 59 after spending hours with my dad watching them working on coal trains to and from Drax Power Station. The mechanical parts salvaged from the loco will see use much sooner - all will soon be revealed!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Dragonby Pilot

A recent project is this 08 based on the original Bachmann release - this is the first thing I've done with it, which shows how long I've had it sitting doing nothing! So, this is a nice economical way of kick starting a new project - the outlay so far has only been the wheels from Gibson and a set of rods from Brassmasters - even with my current situation I can just justify it!

An excellent article by Gareth Bayer on his Class 13 appeared in Rail Express No. 93 and I freely admit I have stolen a good number of ideas and techniques from it! Although about the Tinsley Class 13, they were of course modified 08 locos so a lot of things could be used here.

The main task so far have been rewheeling and the bodyside door panels - the Bachmann doors lack the distinctive raised centres of the doors. A simple remedy using Evergreen 5 thou plastic sheet as Gareth recommends. Other wise I've had a bit of work modifying the various equipment boxes on the running boards; nothing wrong with the Bachmann model as such, but the ones supplied don't match the loco I'm modelling. If buying new, you can, of course, buy a base model which more suits your needs.

And this is what I am aiming for; 08 632, pictured at Scunthorpe (photo 'borrowed' from John Turner's excellent photo site!) -

Of course it would have been easier to base the model on a newer Hornby Class 08 but this is still a very satisfying project and one I will report on in the not too distant future!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Scalefour North 2010

A few days ago we made the trip to Scalefour North, the Scalefour Society's northern exhibtion. As ever it turned into as much a social event for me as it was an exhibition!

Knutsford East Junction is one of my favourite layouts on the circuit at the moment; it has a wonderful down at heel feel which (allowing for the fact I was born some time afterwards!) looks just right for the railway immediately post-war. It also had very interesting detail, a weathered die-cast bus!

This seems to be something which eludes many modellers - I can think of a number of very well known layouts where so much care has gone into stock, track and buildings where they have plonked an out-of-the-box EFE or OOC almost as an afterthought. However here it fitted in rather well!

I was pleased to see Jim Smith-Wright's 'Plank' at last! And good to catch up with Jim too! The flatbottom S&C and plain line is superbly done - you don't see many instances of this type of trackwork being modelled, and certainly not to a decent standard. And don't listen to Jim who will inform you that the PECO baseplates and Pandrols are over scale - it doesn't really matter as the end result looks just right.

It has wonderful OHLE which is pretty much to scale and a world away from many commercial systems. In fact it's so fine it's very hard to photograph, especially when you reduce the size of the image. I was very impressed - no doubt New Street 'covered' in this will be a very impressive sight indeed.

Sheffield Bridgehouses has some very interesting rolling stock in operation! The p-way was rather interesting too, being predominately on blocks rather than sleepers. Once everything is finished it'll provide a rather nice rendition of our early railways.

Finally, if you have time before or after next year's exhibition, there's a delightful miniature railway at the bottom of the park which always looks like it's worth a look!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Peak Practice

If you listen to some people older models aren't worth bothering with, however, I've always thought that with some it's worth persevering. The hobby has seen a lot of new ready to run models supersede previous offerings with mixed result sometimes too! I've compared the 'new and old' here previously.

Bachmann's all-new 'Peak' was a pretty decent stab at the type, despite a few little issues. Before this model appeared we had the Mainline version of the type which had appeared in various guises from Mainline, Replica Railways and, eventually, Bachmann. The releases from Bachmann received a US style twin bogie/central motor drive and a large improvement over Mainline's 'pancake' style motor bogie but the body and cosmetics were identical to the original releases. And this is one of the final releases from Bachmann -

I have to say that out of the box is looked horribly toy-like, not hinting at they rather nice mechanism contained within. The body moulding is a little heavy in places, not quite up there with the delicacies of Lima mouldings, but overall the shape was pretty good but the major issue was that the buffer beams were moulded as part of the body! Rather bizarre really! Of course, this meant that the loco looked rather odd if you were familiar with the prototype! A number of firms over the years have produced parts to enable this to be rectified. Looking closer you can see another rather obvious short coming, the recessed glazing, which really does betray how old the design is.

So why, when Bachmann have produced a new and improved version would you want to spend time with this one? Well, this was second hand at a very good price and would sit very easily alongside one I similarly produced about eight or so years ago.

As ever, the advantageous price means someone who is just starting out with conversions and detailing can give it a go without worrying about how much they've spent in case it doesn't turnout quite as they hoped. The only parts I used were Craftsman buffer beams, A1 buffers, Shawplan vacuum and steam heat pipes and Hornby air control pipes and screw couplings. Other sundries included new numbers and headcode numbers from Fox Transfers along with 15 thou clear styrene sheet from Evergreen. So, not too much to spend - of course the sheet plastic will provide enough to glaze a lot of models! The work is quite straight forward and sorting the glazing is good practice for this technique!

And the result? Well, hopefully something which will hold its own. The final addition of thoughtful weathering to pull everything together should finish the project off to provide a satisfying result. It would be possible to go much further and replace more of the moulded details but as it stands, it is very economical, no nonsense project. I'll leave it up to you to decide if it was worthwhile.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


ModelRAIL was rather unique when it first appeared; it was dedicated to 'modern' modelling. Although the mainstream press has always covered more up-to-date subjects, this was a little part of the modelling press which was devoted to the contemporary scene.

When I was reading them around the age of ten, I don't think I realised just how cutting edge some of the articles really were. I have a treasured collection to which I regularly refer even now. Articles by Andrew Donnoley, although a little dated because of the RTR starting points, are still an inspiration! When you look back at the content you realise that it was pretty ground breaking and has, I think stood the test of time admirably. I was rather disappointed when the supplement changed into what would eventually become the new ModelRail magazine, this is a world away from the original ModelRAIL.

It's interesting that when a magazine billed as being 'Dedicated to the D&E enthusiast' it failed. Modern Railway Modelling was a strange beast really. It had some excellent articles but never seemed to know exactly where it was going or what it wanted to be - it had international themed articles which sat awkwardly alongside the British coverage. It suffered, I believe, because it tried to provide too broad a spectrum - articles which covered general things like techniques and, for example, couplings seemed to dilute the content.

Focusing on the D&E content seems to be the best approach for a more niche publication - the support of a larger magazine seems the best way for D&E magazines. So it's no surprise that a supplement is the most successful D&E publication - Rail Express Modeller is part of Rail Express much like the way ModelRAIL was part of RAIL magazine. Though this should come as no surprise as the same team were behind both!

REM doesn't concern itself with trying to cover general themes instead its concentrated on promoting high quality D&E modelling. But, and here's a clever bit, their ten step detailing guides present a way to achieve the desired aim but using methods which are clearly explained so most people could follow them. It treats the reader as an intelligent person and doesn't dumb anything down like some step-by-step guides in other (not just railway) modelling publications. It works and it works very well. I might not agree with everything which is in all the time but then I'm awkward and have my own ways and means!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Take a Brake

I acquired these recently with an eye for use on a future project. These are old kits, but I feel they are worth at least investigation to see if they can be adapted to suit my needs in terms of P4 and newer suspension systems. Although they still have things like moulded handrails, look beyond these and the funny auto-couplers which they came with and the mouldings are particularly fine. In fact older examples like this can be sharper the newer production runs as the tools were much 'fresher' at the time these two were produced.

I have to admit that part of my influence for this purchase was Neil Rushby and his models. He has some wonderful BR brake vans in his collection of stock and (unless I've made a huge mistake!) they are adaptations of the Airfix kit - whatever their source, they are very convincing models!

What I have in mind is examples of these vans towards the end of their lives, such as this example pillaged from Paul Bartlett's wonderful photo collection - you can spend hours on there if you're not careful!

The question throughout this will be if it would be worth the effort, especially when Bachmann produce an excellent model of a BR brake van. However, when starting with RTR products you can, sometimes, have to modify and replace just as many parts as you would in a kit that you may as well have started from scratch or built a kit exactly to suit your needs! What the Airfix model, as well as other wagons in the range, have in their favour is very fine mouldings which is what makes me think I would want to try it in the first place!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

York 2010

Along with my dad I made the annual trip to the York Model Railway Show. It's a show I always enjoy and I think that the overall standard was a little higher this year than last - not to take away anything from the exhibits I highlighted last year.

One layout which I was really taken by was Alan Whitehouse's delightful essay in 2mm Finescale Mini MSW - it has a wonderful down-at-heal look about. I can imagine working on track there wouldn't be the most pleasant of environments in which to work! The attention to detail creates a wonderfully railway-like appearance when viewed at close quarters too.

The presentation of the layout is unusual - a 4' 6" circular board in two halves with a rather neat pelmet. One feature I've noticed of a number of two mil' layouts is how professionally they are presented - something many clubs and societies with their creased and stained curtains with wonky lighting rigs could learn from. Even the fiddle yard is very simple yet functional.

It also allows the viewer to glimpse some of the stock used on the layout too! I rather liked the Class 76 locos, their spoked wheels really adding to the overall look and highlighting just how 'fine' and delicate 2mmFS is. All very nice indeed.

Another layout which I really enjoyed seeing today was Y Cae Colliery by Simon Thompson in Scale 7. Truly convincing industrial layouts are, sadly, far and few between. Too often they are just a small feeder to a larger layout or used only for micro layouts because the stock can be a lot smaller than their mainline equivalents - such layouts can sometimes lack purpose. However, this is not the case here.

For me one of the nicest parts of the layout was the trackwork. Deliberate kinks, bumps and dips meant stock didn't glide like it often does in S7 - instead it behaved like stock does on real industrial railways! And just like the prototype parts of the track were buried in ****! There's no other word to describe it and it's always a faff if you need access to the parts below. I remember tasks at Scunthorpe checking switches and stretcher bars in around the blast furnaces, not always pleasant!

One rather nice local exhibit by the Ebor Group of Railway Modellers was Rowntrees Halt.

It's always good to see local subject tackled and this one was rather well done - with a nice feeling of space too.

There were plenty of other good layouts there too, and if you find yourself free and able to get to York, the show is well worth a visit.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The 39 Steps

Last night we went to York to The 39 Steps using this scheme which is too encourage young people to go to the theatre. Sadly, my pass has just run out!

If you get a chance to see the production during its UK tour, do take full advantage! It's a wonderful production and fantastic way to spend an evening!