Thursday, 28 November 2013

Semaphore Sun Set

As the sun sets at Crabley Creek Signal Box Northern Rail's class 158, 158904, comes to a stand waiting for the section ahead to clear. I know I only posted a view of Crabley the other day, but I think this is worth sharing.

J21 Cab Roof

A closer view of the J21's cab roof mentioned yesterday. I think the two photos, especially if you compare the thickness of the original in the second photo with the replacement, the difference is obvious. Well I hope so anyway!

This isn't a criticism of the Alexander Models kit at all - it is simply a limitation of the whitemetal process. Very thin parts are possible but are very vulnerable. However a brass replacement, of laminated construction in this case, is much stronger comparatively so not only looks better but is more durable.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

So much for a quick build!

This was supposed to be a quick build it hasn't worked out that way! And mainly through its conversion to P4!

The J21 now has new splasher fronts and cab roof made from thin brass - 5 thou sheet. The splashers didn't allow enough room for P4 wheels so the thick whitemetal fronts were removed and replaced with brass soldered on the outside to maximise the room within.

The cab roof has also been replaced - this is often a weak spot of whitemetal locos and it is very hard to disguise. In fact a replacement is probably less work than trying to disguise the original's thickness. I think the cab roof makes an enormous difference over the cast one provided - it's simply a 10 thou brass base with a 5 though overlay with the rain strips added using flattened handrail wire. Cut and bend it to shape - rub it on a sanding board to make the base reasonably flat and solder in place. Then file down so you have a flat appearance and consistant width. Not too much effort for a really big improvement in appearance!

The tender is coming along too - all handrail are now in place and also has Millput in the coal space which will form the basis for the eventual coal load and means you don't have to spend time cleaning up soldered joints beneath it!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Project 25 - Underframes

It's nice when you feel a project is really coming together - especially it's one which is quite involved. This class 25 has been quite long winded in many ways! But slowly over this week I feel like things have been finally coming together.

The underframe is a huge improvement upon the original Bachmann moulding. There are now gaps where the should be gaps and even the simplified pipework gives the right impression of the correct equipment being there. Not that it's correct in every respect - it's too easy to get bogged down in the detail and miss the bigger picture I found, but the result will hopefully satisfy most.

The water tank is actually scratchbuilt depsite having the Brassmasters' one 'in stock' I found that D5176, my chosen one, was built with tanks with no gauges. It would be a shame to file off the nicely moulded gauges so I built a simple box from black Plastikard. Using photos I added a reasonable approximation of the equipment around it. Incidentally, an excellent source of detail photos (and not just for the class 25 but pretty much most production British mainline diesels!) is Brian Daniels' excellent Flickr site. Well worth a look.

So this brings 'Project 25' up to date. Still required are the remaining pipe runs on the chassis, the framing behind the headstocks and a few final details and then it's ready for painting!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Project 50

This is an ongoing project for a friend of mine - it's a fairly straight forward detailing and respray of a Hornby class 50. However, the standard and finesse of some of the parts now available mean that even a straight forward project can result in a very high quality job if you take care and take your time.

50018 Resolution stands at Waterloo on 25th November 1989.

This is how the model should ultimately end up looking; unfortunately I can't remember the source of the image. It's reasonably typical, I think, of how the fifties appeared in the later Network South East livery. The miniature snowploughs just add the little something extra to the the loco however!

The roof clearly shows the new parts from Shawplan. I've also added the cowling within the roof space for the fan itself. A minor detail but I think it's worth the effort for the visual appearance. An idea nicked from Paul Marshall-Potter!

The main parts used so far are from Shawplan and they are excellent. Well, I wouldn't expect anything else from the nice Mr Hanson! The first task was to strip the body using Phoenix Precision's 'Superstrip'. It's expensive but very good! And it is amazing just how fine the model is beneath the thick factory applied paint - the yellow warning panel was especially thick and once it was removed some wonderfully subtle and fine bolt detail around headlight. This is totally lost as the model comes out of the box.

The new exhaust ports are an enormous improvement over the originals.

The new Shawplan roof details are not like the details of old - they are very fine and the fan grille (which hasn't been fitted yet) is especially delicate and requires careful handling. I found it worth annealling the parts to make it easier to form the correct curves - it makes things much easier! I'm sure some people will think that the work involved isn't worth the effort but personally I think the extra finesse they provide, and the ability to correct some minor errors on the original moulding makes the effort really worthwhile. It does require a great deal of care to prepare the loco for the new parts but the result is very satisfying!

Hornby Magazine - Weathering Skills Guide

Don't be fooled by the title of Hornby Magazine's latest publication! In all but name this is essentially a new book from the former MRJ editor, Tim Shackleton. The whole book (I think it warrants that term) is very well presented and very well written - 95% of it is Tim Shackleton and the rest is Hornby magazine's editor, Mike Wild. I think there's something for both those who already weather their models as a matter of course as well as those new to the whole concept.

There are plenty of ideas to challenge established ideas - finishing wagons in a gloss top coat to reflect their depicted 'newness' is a great idea and would leave many modellers sitting in a corner rocking back and forth mumbling to themselves. But it works very well and the rational behind it is explained very well, as is the whole book. You can see the difference that having someone who's not only a very accomplished modeller but also a professional writer makes.

Other than highlighting other bits I liked, there's little point continuing other than to say that railway modellers really should find a copy before it disappears. And if you can't see the fuss about weathering, then you really do need to find a copy of this!

Further Reading

Aspects of Modelling: Weathering Locomotives and Rolling Stock, by Tim Shackleton

Sunday, 17 November 2013


The other night Suzi and I saw Adam Hills live in York.

I've seen an awful lot of comedians live and Adam Hills is one of the most effortless amd natural performers I've seen with a real warmth about his performance. The show was one of the most up lifting I've experienced and the whole message of the show (normally a comedy show with a message seems rather forced, or like you're being preached to but no with Adam Hills) lifted the spirits of the audience en masse in a way I've not experienced before. The message is summed up simply by the phrase "touch the frog!"

And if that means nothing to you, you really need to try and see him live!

Northern Rail Movember

Northern Rail is supporting 'Movember' this year - it's a very worthy cause so please take the time to follow this link -

Monday, 11 November 2013


I spent a couple of days in Leeds last week. One day was training for the new GSM-R system which the railway is adopting and the second was for a 'LNE Route Conversation Day' at Holbeck Depot - don't ask.

Walking back to the station I saw a couple of stereotypical railway enthusiasts with footsteps looking from the bridge and noticed that this was waiting there! Network Rail Class 97, 97301, is awaiting the road at Holbeck with a track recording train. I didn't have time to wait for its departure though as I needed to get back for my train home. And whilst waiting at the station the previous day, East Coast's 91126 snakes across the west end of Leeds City Station, having brought a down train from London.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Action For Rail

It's twenty years since the Railways Act of 1993 was passed which began the privatisation process. Action For Rail is a campaign supporting reform for the railway industry. The site is well worth a read and if you agree, you can easily e-mail your MP via the site to ask them to support the campaign.