Sunday, 28 April 2013

Scalefour North 2013

Last weekend was, of course, Scalefour North. It was a very enjoyable weekend, even if I didn't actually get to see much of the show itself. I spoke to a lot lovely people and had many interesting conversations. And it was so nice to have people coming up to me to tell me that they read my blog! I'm not sure why they do read it, it is appreciated nonetheless!

It seems that interest in diesel modelling is very healthy indeed. Interest in the Shawplan and Penbits parts I was using was very high. It's a few years since I first demonstrated modelling diesels at Scalefour North - interest has changed. The level is still high but then (maybe seven or so years ago) there seemed to be a certain novelty factor too. Even 'hardened' finescale modellers were quite happy to just rewheel diesels with a minimum of work so models which had had major work undertaken in order to properly represent underframes and variations were a new experience for some, but now things have changed...

The parts now available have opened up this world to the masses and not just the very dedicated band of modellers with little trade support. There's now no reason why diesels and electrics cnnot be compared with the best of other forms of motive power. It's really nice to see how this particular part of the hobby has evolved over the last few years.

And just a few bits from around the show.

Howard Bolton

There were some fantastic things going on in the 'Demo room' but I didn't get chance to photograph them (Geoff Kent who is a modelling god in Plastikard; Jon Hall making stuff from casting resin; Alan Goodwillie on scratchbuilding loco and the beginnings of the Skinningrove Zig-Zag project). This however, really stood out for me. A fully interlocked mechanical lever frame and working (yes, working!) surface point rodding! An absolutely stunning piece of work -

Lower Exbury

This is a lovely layout - it certainly shows how finescale doesn't always require a significant chunk of space! And apparently when my parents were taking Thomas round the show, he wanted to know why it didn't have any signals!

Humber Dock

If you know this part of Hull, where the Marina now is, then you'll recognise the buildings and the area instantly! It supposes the North Eastern Railway had a branch right along the river on the south edge of the town. Given the Corporation's very early dislike of level crossings (Hull's flat and even in the 19th Century, its numerous corssings were causing congestion! There was a reason why the Hull & Barnsley had to raise their line above road level!) I'm not sure how plausable the passenger service would be - it certainly would be a lot of work to upgrade a dockside line to passenger standards. However with locos purposefully moving wagons about, it screams 'Hull'!


I rather like Clutton - the signalling side of the layout is rather nicely done, With a full frame and single line block intruments. Though out of practicallity it's worked as tokenless block as sadly we haven't got to the stage where the 'drivers' can collect tokens themselves!

The signalbox is, I think, very nice! Just a shame it sits with its back to the viewer!

And if you thought these Scalefour events were all deadly serious -

Knutsford East Junction

This is a layout which I've seen several times before but one thing I noticed this time (and it could be new as the layout has evolved considerably since its first appearance as part of the Society's 1883 challenge) was this lovely little scene. A new signal post awaiting commissioning.

Wheal Elizabeth

I've seen this before but I'd noticed a few subtle changes. I do prefer it when it's in Railfreight mode, but it's very good indeed.


I didn't get any photos of Waterloo Street unfortunately, but it is worth seeking out at shows if you get the chance!

It's a new venue next year, but I expect it to be just as good an atmosphere as it has been since I started attending the show. If you've never been to a Scalefour Society show before, you really ought to try one. The scale in which you personally model really doesn't matter, you'll find a show which is laid back, relaxed and very friendly where you can see some great modelling.

Further Reading

The Scalefour Society

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A Class 47 on a Budget

Finally this project has come to an end! Well, nearly - there are still lights to be added but I really want a way to model these so they are quite discrete and not like Xenon headlights which seems to be an 'in' look with some RTR models.

Now it's all be touched up and weathered, I hope all the seperate elements (which can be seen here) appear to all be a part of a whole and nothing sticks out as obviously additional. It's been very enjoyable and I'm pleased with the result - so much so further Class 47s will be using Lima bodies as the basis. Underneath they'll make use of Heljan or Bachmann running gear with the 'bouncy' bits from Penbits.

Until then, I'll leave you to decide if this is worthwhile or madness!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Scalefour North 2013

Just a little reminder that the Scalefour Society's northern show, Scalefour North will be on this weekend at Wakefield College in Thornes Park, Wakefield.

I will be there attempting to tell people about how to model diesels in 4mm finescale so if you've liked any of the diesel based projects please do come along and say hello!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Two Wrongs might make a Forty

Niether the Lima nor the (original) Bachmann class 40 bodies really looked like the prototype out of the box. However by combining different aspects of the two, a nice representation of the real loco can be made. This has Bachmann nose ends grafted onto the Lima body which at the same time as having Shawplan windows added has had its nose lowered to suit the new ends.

I'm fully aware that the new Bachmann class 40 is due soon, however this will be one of the oringal ten locomotives which formed the Pilot Scheme batch and differed in some of their details. So having all the parts already in my possesion (so I don't have to spend too much!) I have a great start to the project, which was first seen here. Even the chassis was there - originally it had a detailed Lima body on it, but that doesn't look quite right to me now. Will just have to see how this one turns out now!

Further Reading

Diesels in Depth: Class 40s by David Clarke
Rail Express 115: Class 40s for Mostyn


Class 40 Appeal

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Duff Option?

The Class 47 has been a feature of Britain's railway network since 1962; finishing in 1968 a total of 512 were constructed. They've enjoyed a strange love hate relationship with enthusiasts, initially unloved by many as they replaced steam locomotives but as time has passed and they have become regarded as 'classic traction' an increasing number of enthusiasts have warmed to them.

Modelling them in 4mm/ft used to be easy – most modellers used the Lima model, detailed and running on Ultrascales. The really radical modellers added suspect A1 Models fan grilles and even a SE Finecast Flushglaze pack! The old Hornby model tended to be overlooked.

But now we have options from Hornby (original and remotored Lima), Lima, Heljan, Bachmann and Vi Trains. All with their good and bad points.

My take on the Heljan model - a lot of work but undoubtedly looks like a forty-seven! Just a case of whether all the extra work is now worth is bearing in mind the newest version of this long serving type.
Heljan's Class 47 is quite a significant model as really it marked a turning point for the hobby; it was they first of the new generation of ready-to-run locomotives. The one problem it has is that it is slightly too wide - something made more obvious on the original releases due to the bogie side frames being set back too far. Sadly at the time a few people, both on the net and in magazines, seemed to jump on this bandwagon and lambast the model without looking at it properly. The original moulded cab handrails didn't help either but once replaced this problem went away. Despite the problems I think it can be made into an excellent looking model, one which wonderfully captures the look of the prototype.

Bachmann’s Class 47 looks quite good on first glance, though not perfect and has led to debate about the front end proportions. I actually thought their class 57 was a good looking model, though it did have the odd detail issue, though most models do. Bachmann's original class 47 release came in for a lot of criticism - the most obvious thing was the model's prominent rivet/bolt heads around front windows. This led to a number of comments in magazines and the net about how wrong it was - in fact there are bolt heads around the windows; however they are the heads of countersunk screws which secure the windscreens in place but are not very prominent. The most significant issue, I thought, was carrying over various class 57 specific components - the underframe tank moulding and the bogie sideframe moulding. Ian Fleming, best known for wagons, 'amended' one of the early releases to produce a more accurate model. Thankfully later releases have seen this rectified. I haven't tried the earlier style of Bachmann's 47 so I can't speak from my own experience but Jonathan Hughes has worked wonders with one!

Bachmann’s mid-life Class 47 is also around and has come in a variety of forms but shares similar issues with the original releases – notably debate concerning the windscreen area. This is part of a model which can make or break a model. And sometimes if it’s only slightly out it’ll look like what it’s supposed to but not quite right and you may struggle to work out what’s wrong as the error may be very small. Is this the case with Bachmann’s models of the class? I’m not sure.

I still like the Lima model – it can be acquired quite cheaply if you shop around and is an excellent basis for detailing and one which first time detailers can use without fear of ‘wrecking’ an expensive loco! Rather than repeat myself, have a look here!

The Vi Trains model has some lovely and delicate tooling – the connection between Vi and lima is well known, so this isn’t entirely surprising. The shape seems pretty good and I’m using one for a conversion of mine using recovered Heljan parts and a spare Lima chassis frame. What really seems to spoil things is the rather thick glazing...

The original Hornby model is a bit rough round the edges but the shape is very good indeed! With work it can look superb! The chassis isn’t really worth tackling as it’s quite easy to source an alternative which will offer better running and detailing. And these bodies can be had for very little too! This is what happens when a master has a Hornby Class 47 in his hands.

But with all this choice I really can’t decide the best way to proceed. For running gear the Bachmann chassis with Penbits sprung running gear is an obvious choice I feel - or indeed Heljan with Penbits running gear. But body wise?!

Shawplan offer all sorts of very useful parts which makes it easy to choose a more basic starting as key character details can be easily source from them and fitted without worrying how to repeat it on another model consistently. Their windscreen surrounds and cab window frames mean it should be easy to achieve a refined appearance even on the Hornby body without too much effort.

So where does all of this leave us? I'm not really sure. To hand I have spares or complete locos from Heljan, Lima, Vi Trains, Bachmann and Hornby! So which do I go?

Any suggestions are most welcome.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

How Empty Stock Should Be!

47760 and 47854 with 5Z49 at Gilberdyke in preparation for a railtour from Bridlington to Shrewsbury the following day. Sounded lovely!

I do find West Coast's maroon livery very dull - I wish they'd paint their Brush Type 4s in their original livery instead though!