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road vehicles

End of the year – end of a sub project

With 2017 drawing to a close I have also (nearly) finished off the road vehicles I will need for Brettell Road.  Despite having 5 bridges over the railway I’ve resisted the urge to do any buses to put on them and I also haven’t done any cars either.Above is the latest and last batch.

Starting with some kits. On the left a resin Ford Thames 400E from Road Transport Images and on the right a white metal ex military Austin 3 ton dropside from MMS.  Unfortunately MMS have now closed so this kit is no longer available.

I found this part built Langley models kit on eBay for next to no money. Its a 45cD tractor unit from the very late 30’s and once disassembling the more sketchily assembled bits I decided that it once belonged to one of the business owners. Some sort of engine fire meant it got dumped but with the intention to restore it to its former glory. However it ended up forgotten and is now rotting away. The tarp is from a black latex glove and I attacked the inside of the front mud guard with a burr in a minidrill to depict the rust working its way through. The rear mud guard is hanging on for dear life as well and some parts have now long gone. Finally a Leyland Steer from a combination of base toys bits.   I find these lorries quite intriguing with their (to my mind) odd wheel arrangement.  The base toys Steer has a different cab to this so I swapped it from an ‘8 legger’ box van.  If you look at the inset picture you can see that I’ve widened the wheel arches and reprofiled the front windows to get something looking more like the pictures I found of the real vehicles. I could have done more with the chassis but where its going you wont see it. Wheels are from Road transport images.

Some more road vehicles

Oxford diecast continue to act as lifesavers in the world of road vehicles for more recent layouts.  Yes, they do tend to go for the more exotic (or chavvy) versions but when it’s that or nothing we can’t really complain a great deal.  Hence the Vauxhall Astra – supplied as the Mk2 GTE but still very handy for New Street, the Mk2 being first introduced in 1984.  The middle one shows the quite nice casting once you strip the caked on white paint off!  I know I have gone on about this before but the super thick paint really does the toolmakers no favours. White seems to be the worst culprit.   On the right a more standard version achieved by cutting the spoiler off, filling the vents on the bonnet and tweaking the radiator a smidge.   All finished in a fetching shade of mud brown (why did people buy this colour?)

Also from Vauxhall the Cavalier, also a Mk2 but i think this is the post 1985 face lifted version.   I’ve picked out the grill in black and outlined the window frames. Some light weathering and a blast of matt varnish as is my standard approach with all vehicles.  I also removed the rather naff looking sunroof which was literally just a printed on silver panel.  It seemed to withstand efforts with thinners and IPA so I sanded it off in the end.

Similar treatment for the Volvo which would be a fair bit older on New Street.  A Volvo 300 series would be a nice addition to the range if Oxford are listening!!

Finally an EFE Bedford TK which cropped up really cheaply on Ebay. I brought it just because it was orange as much as any better reason, being in GM buses livery.  The livery elements on this one responding well to IPA.  I’ve just fitted new wheels from RTI and weathered it with a mixture of enamels and gouache.

moving stuff around

I want to depict some sort of activity within the current building or at least evidence of it either about to occur or that it’s just occurred (luckily the vans will block the view when the place is the most active) . So I need some way for my mini workers to move stuff around.

These barrows and sack trucks are from Scalelink and depict items of Midland origin. I thickened up the wheels on some using old handwheels from various etches as a single etch didn’t seem thick enough. On the larger sack trucks I couldn’t figure out how the mount for the wheels was supposed to fit, you can see my best guess on the one lying down. On the others I just mounted the axles on plasticard blocks as mounting them on blocks seemed to be more in keeping with a picture of something similar in LMS miscellany bu H. N. Twells. the wheels on the last barrow were supplied as a flat etch so I used some of Colin Craigs handwheels instead as they had a better look. I think the rear wheels are actually too far forward now its built mind you.

Incidentally the brown used for these is from Halfords range of camouflage spray paints and would make quite a good basis for general track colour if you are looking for something for this.

forkliftA spot of research showed fork lift trucks to be a lot older than I thought they were so I figured that the owners of the building had got hold of one to move stuff around. My idea is that the building was originally a factory of some sort but now being used as a warehouse so a make do approach seems more sensible than everything being designed for a purpose.  Anyway this is a JPG Models kit backdated to look like a generic earlier forklift. I ditched the safety cage and added a grill on the side and some vents on the back as it seemed that the earlier fork lifts tended to be more like this.

Sherpas ticked off

sherpas-finalMy 4 Sherpas are now done. Aside from the Royal Mail one the transfers were all drawn up in Illustrator and printed on crafty computer paper. I decided that the paragon models wheels that I used for the minibus were too big so swapped them for the wheels from and Oxford beaver tail transit. As supplied they were no smaller but by changing the types for some from their mk3 escort they look much better. Its worth doing this even if you are keeping them under the transit to my mind. On the subject of tyres I tend to paint them Humbrol 67 grey rather than black. You only really see black tyres in car showrooms or at car shows. sherpas-rear

The Sherpa can take it!

sherpas-batch-2Long time followers of my efforts might recall a batch of 4 Sherpa vans I did from the kingfisher Miniatures kit. I said at the time that I wanted to do more and after a long wait the kit is back in stock so a second batch has been started.

Sherpa’s were a common sight in my childhood as they were produced locally at Washwood Heath. While my travels didn’t take me over there often I tended to see rows of brand new ones parked up between Tysley and Small Heath waiting for shipment by rail. Public bodies were urged to buy British and BR, the Post Office, BT and schools used them extensively over the (better) Ford Transit. The suggestion was that Ford couldn’t make Transits fast enough to meet demand anyway!

Unlike the last batch which was relatively simple (the conversion of 2 to sliding door variants was about as adventurous as I got) this batch is a bit more involved.  On the left a BT version with swappable body/ The body being a simple plasticard box. Second along what will become a minibus in the livery of my secondary school. This is a bit of a best guess as I cant find a picture of one. We definitely had them and I am pretty sure they were long wheelbase ones. The back of the BT one was used to stretch the body but minibuses were wider than vans so the whole model was cut in half (2 cuts down the bonnet on the panel lines and spread with microstrip before gluing back together.The wheels are from Paragon models.

Third along is how the kit was intended, this one is destined for British Gas livery. Lastly another port office one, this time long wheelbase and high roof. I remember PO vans being slung round the streets of the midlands with the driver’s door wide open. Careful consideration of where you cut the van bodies mean you can get 2 long wheelbase vans from a single spare shell.

This is the basic surgery stage. The detailing stage starts next.

Kingfisher Miniatures

One of those finished things posts.

The advantages of working on more than one project at once is that, firstly, I don’t get bored and secondly every so often you seem to finish a lot of things together.  This is one of those instances with several things that have featured recently have reached the finish line sort of together.

loading-gaugeMy loading gauge has been painted for a while but now its been planted too. I love stuff like this as its one of those things that I hope disappears into the scene and becomes unremarkable. Perhaps once in a blue moon someone will notice it but, much like the real thing I like stuff like this just to be ‘there’. It’s not supposed to get people’s attention. (don’t worry about the big gap under the wall – that’s not been permanently attached yet)Thames-and-AustinMy Ford Thames and Austin A40.  The colours of the Austin have a somewhat obvious Birmingham influence. Cartwrights was a furniture store in Brierley Hill but I have no idea if they used Austin vans or even if they had any road vehicles at all. ex-coke-wagonThis was a quick win project – Started life as a Bachmann Coke wagon which I imagined was sold to Round Oak and had the coke rails removed. I just liked it because it had a local livery and i’ve never done a distressed private owner before. The lettering was attacked with one of those brass brush wheels in a mini-drill and then the wagon was weathered. The w-irons needed a but more work with the mini-drill and a burr to get the wheels in but this was really minimal effort modelling! DE2-paint-1And so to the big project of the last few weeks – the DE2 shunter.  I have to admit I didn’t relish the thought of painting its striped livery but by using some 4mm making tape from a company called Jammy Dog it wasn’t too bad at all. (click here for their website)      A few more pictures below.DE2-paint-3 DE2-paint-2coal-emptiesThis is the sort of train I had in mind for the loco – Pushed up the hill with the loco at the rear and no brake van. I will need to add a shunter to the front wagon at some point.

van-train-bwFinally another moody shot of the Jinty heading out of the yard on a train of vans.

More vehicles, greenery and a first for me.

more-commercialsThe above 2 vehicles represent a return for me in a small way in that both come from manufacturers I have used before and in both cases I was a little bit disappointed previously . On the left an Austin A40 from Road transport images who I used before for a dodge cab on New Street. In the case of the dodge cab I felt it was a bit too rounded and didn’t really capture the look of the real thing all that well but I must say I’m much happier with this little van which was an impulse buy at this years Scaleforum. This is one of their all in one kits which is unusual for them as they usually sell all their bits separately so you can build the vehicle you want. Road Transport Images

The Lorry is a Ford Thames from John Day models. In this case my previous experience was with a diesel-powered Transit bus and again I wasn’t all that impressed. This model couldn’t be further from the transit though as its much better cast with very little work to do. I swapped the supports in the bed for wire as they were a tad scruffy and the bed and cab both needed a little bit of evergreen 40thou section to make them fit a little better but I like it! John Day Models

unloved-trackI decided that the track in my little yard looked too neat so I have attacked it with some powder paint (rubbed in with a finger then sealed with Klear) and some weeds. I’m much happier with how it looks now.
loading-gaugeAlthough I don’t have a goods shed I do need a loading gauge. I’m reliably informed that these were used to ensure that wagons leaving the yard were within gauge and not as some sort of protection for goods sheds. The above example is a typical midlands one and started out from the Smiths kit, I filed off the moulded lifting gear and replaced it with some spare handwheels (from Brassmasters) and bits of wire and brass.
weighbridgeI mentioned in the title a first for me and this is it. Not that i’ve never built a weighbridge before (Although I haven’t) but i’ve never actually built a kit building before. When I was a kid my dad built some for me, usually Airfix kits and Linka, but all my buildings have been scratchbuilt up to now. So in the interests of breaking new ground this is a Wills kit. I turned the door over as hinges on the outside indicated it opened outwards which seemed a bit odd to me. I also filed off the panels on the end and rescribed the bricks and fancied a brick-built chimney but it is still a kit building. Oh and the guttering is bits of brass from Eileens!

Finally, you may have spotted earlier that Ive bedded in (most of) the abandoned warehouse, a few pictures follow:abandoned-line warehouse-bedded-in

Abandoned warehouse, nearly there!

painted-building-CSMy abandoned warehouse is nearly there now. A spot of paint, Brassmasters windows and roof tiles kindly supplied by Mr Horn. These images show it roughly positioned. You can see a glimpse of the canal which I have also decided to depict as derelict and ill come back to that in a future post.

painted-building-YSUnusually for me the more interesting side is actually the side that people will see! The yard has been suitably strewn with waste from plastic strip and Scalelink bits. The 2 tanks are from Unit models.


More wagons

wooden-opensWhat you see above is a variation on a theme, both started out as Parkside kits for the same wagon (although different generations of the same kit) and both have been built to represent something slightly different to what was intended. On the Left a clasped brake version achieved by substituting the supplied chassis for a PA16 chassis kit from the same supplier. On the right the supplied chassis modified with vac cylinder and tie bars (0.7mm L section from Eileens).

steel-opensA selection of steel opens built pretty much as intended. The far left is a Red Panda kit the others are Parkside with the usual extra detailing. It’s good to see that the Red Panda kits have reappeared from Parkside although the example shown here remained available continuously.

abandoned-lorry-2I decided I quite likes the idea that when the building shown in the last update was abandoned an unfortunate lorry was left behind too. Perhaps it wouldn’t start or its been dumped there?  Having mooched around for a suitable victim I quite fancied a kit rather than ready to plonk and I havent built a vehicle kit for a while. I settled on a Coopercraft Bedford ML and set to work.

The kit is quite poor if i am honest. There’s loads of flash and the fit of the parts isn’t great. I also decided that the windscreens were far too small but being all plastic it’s not too much hassle to fashion something presentable and as I’ve mentioned before I find poor kits strangely rewarding. I attacked the bed with a circular saw in a mini drill to gouge out some of the planks and simlulate rot.  The above is the more presentable side!

abandoned-lorry-1On this side I cut off a wing and cut down the tires to simulate flats. The rubber at the bottom was added with filler. The lorry was first weathered with a light blue to simulate fading, varnished and then gouache was used for the rust. another coat of varnish and washes of enamels were added to simulate dirt and grime. Finally the whole thing was dry brushed with Klear to make it look wet.

On the subject of road vehicles I will be doing a demo at Scaleforum this month so please stop by for a chat if you are going.


Tanks and Trucks

Not the sort with tracks and a large gun sticking out of the front but storage tanks
These are resin kits from Unit models with a bit of extra detail added. If you are not familiar with Unit models they are a little company with an extremely useful range of bits and bobs for scratchbuilders – well worth checking out their site.

A pet peeve I have is really nicely modelled layouts with ever so shiny road vehicles that are clearly tipped from the box. These are usually done by quite skilled modelers who wouldn’t accept such a thing if it was a rail vehicle but are happy too for cars, trucks and vans. Odd then that ive just done a lorry for Brettell Road that is deliberately shiny!
You may have thought that the tanks look shiny too and you would be right. Part of the plan to model Brettell Road is to model it in the rain. I’ve seen layouts that depict snow but never rain which is a tad odd when you consider that in the UK on average it rains for 1 in every 3 days! This lorry is effectively a freebie, using left over bits from lorries done for New Street.

I realised that the picture of the double slip that isn’t in an earlier post is a bit confusing. However once a spot of paint is added it becomes much more obvious which bits are used and which bits are not.
Finally a start has been made on the scenic side of things. Its early stages at the moment but the below picture gives a good idea of the effect I have in mind for the layout.

Transit, nearly there

20140920-232312.jpgWell thats another transit van nearly done. Just need to add a tax disk and wing mirrors.

Filling the stock box.

Perhaps its a bit of OCD but I find if there’s a gap in a stock box I have an urge to fill it with something. In this case I have a gap next to my TTA’s and the easy option would be to buy a Bachmann one, fit springs and a new walkway and bobs your lazy uncle! However things don’t work like that and while browsing Paul Bartletts wagon site I came across these!

Something a bit different and yet not in a stand out “look at me” way. A couple of cheap Hornby TTA’s were found and cut in uneven halves to make the barrel 3mm longer. I know I have gone on about the Lima Mk2′ s being too short and how I’m not all that bothered and yes the difference is about the same but it pays to think of these things in terms of context and percentages. Context , I need a lot of Mk2s and I don’t see a huge gain for the effort in a large fleet, where as I’m only doing one of these. Percentages – 3mm over a coach is a lot smaller percentage error than 3mm over a wagon that’s less than half its length.
The chassis is scratchbuilt (it’s not exactly complicated) from evergreen section with suspension from Wizard models, Buffers are from the Southern modellers group.

Also in progress is another Mk2 transit van. I’ve been meaning to do a LWB high roof bus for a while in BTP livery to park outside the station (that’s where the BTP offices were and there were always police vehicles parked there). However an out of the blue request* has led me to a short version instead . The ingredients are the usual mix of Corgi Mk1 van and ABS fronts with a hefty bit of drilling and filing.
*More about that in a later update.

The smart little car with all the extras…

…is what ford claimed in a 1988 advert for their Fiesta.  In 4mm scale the Oxford Diecast Fiesta has been out for a while now (and is an earlier version but it’s still very suitable for New Street.

First Impressions

Looks like a Mk1 fiesta to me. Comes with the usual manufacturing compromises of 2D printing on a 3d object and the now standard oversize wheels. I kind of hoped that Oxford had stopped doing this when they abandoned the separate tyres and produced the Marina model and while the fiesta hasn’t got separate tyres either the wheels are way too big.  On the upside it’s probably easier to fix now.

fiestas-compared-1On the left, out of the box and on the right after a few easy tweaks. The model is held together with a screw and the rear licence plate as a sort of plug in wedge (bit weird!) so disassembly is a doddle. A spot of black paint on the widow frames and bumpers and a coat of matt varnish is all that’s needed.  I decided this one would be parked so didn’t fit a driver. The wheels were pulled off the axle (you need to do this to get them out) and then remounted one at a time for turning down in a minidrill with some sandpaper.  Take your time as you need to avoid them getting too hot.

fiestas-compared-2Finally a very light weathering and its done – I’ll change the registration at some point and add a tax disk.  Reading up on fiestas the Mk2 version was essentially a facelift mk1 rather than a new car.  They seem to look about the same proportions, any Ford experts care to advise if that’s the case?

Volvo FL6 part 2

I have to  admit I’ve quite enjoyed getting to grips with this.  The beauty of a white metal kit is that you can tweak it with low melt solder used as a filler.  You don’t have to wait for it to dry and it doesn’t break away when you attack it with files and filler.  I decided to do a solid sided box and do away with the windbreak in the end.  I also replaced the marker/indicator lights and added the rainstrips from wire. The front panel, below the windscreen was filled with solder, sanded smooth and the panel re-scribed so that it was the same height at both ends! Below is where it is now.


Volvo FL6 from BW models

In the mid 1980’s Volvo developed a new medium sized lorry, the FL6 and a slightly lighter counterpart the FL4.  the FL6 cab is quite a familiar shape and many were produced as Fire engines.  For a long while I have been aware that BW models do a kit for the FL6 with a curtain side body and on hearing that they are planning to wind down the business in 2014 I ordered one.

Previously white metal road vehicle kits I have built have been very good. With the likes of ABS, Doug Roseman and Langley Models all setting the standard quite high.  Sadly the same cannot be said for this kit.  BWM-fl6This is the kit as supplied.  The parts all fit reasonably well although there’s a lot of flash to be tidied up and some parts (main floor and roof) need to be bent back to shape.  I replaced the front axle with a straight piece of bar as it sat too low as supplied. I soldered the kit together.

BWM-fl6-cabClose up of the cab.  While the bumper is pretty cleanly cast the cab itself is pretty awful as can be seen.  I decided the best approach was to assemble the kit and then set to work on tidying it all up rather than to try and work on separate parts.

BWM-fl6-rearThe canvas is not much better with a load of imperfections in the kit.  To be fair to the manufacturer I did nt contact them with regard to replacing the parts I was not happy with so I don’t know what their customer service would be like in this regard. The side is held in place with blue tag for the picture. Options are to replace it with adapted sides from the Hornby Curtain sided van (which you can tell is how the master was produced) or do a solid sided version.

More to follow…

At last, the sixties.

The title for this entry comes from a late 80s advert for the humble Mini.  Perhaps “a mini adventure’ would get the point across easier to the current generation and might be a bit more apt given that’s kind of what its been!

minisAt the start of the process there were several routes to a model mini, the Springside kit, a HO version (under size), the Cararama version (over sized) or the Corgi one.  Since then the Corgi one seems to have disappeared and there’s a version from Oxford Diecast.  Sadly both Oxford and Corgi chose to do the earlier version which surprised me a bit.  I feel Oxford missed a trick not doing a later one.  I’m not talking about the BMC verses BMW type here either.

I chose the Corgi ones and first step is to strip the caked on pain off.  For such a small model the paint all but destroys what is some quite nice detail underneath.  It also suffers from the same problem as a lot of 4mm scale cars – oversized wheels.


Sticking with one original one this was a simple repaint with replacement wheels from the springside kit (as are all except the orangy one).  From left to right numbers 2, 4 and 6 all have new grills again from the springside kit and new rear light clusters (from microstrip) they also have wider back windows and have had the door hinged removed.  Number 4 has the original wheels turned down and wider wheel arches added from scrap brass strip added to the inside of the wheel arch and filler.

Number 3 was a bit of a challenge as I was given a springside Mini Clubman kit and try as I might I couldn’t get the kit to look anything like the real vehicle.  In the end I just used the front of the nose and grafted it onto a corgi one.  The same goes for number 5 (the estate) which started life as a van.

The result is a fleet of minis more suited to a late 80s layout. Still to do are the number plates and tax disks.


british-carsRoad vehicles are a good distraction from all the other projects on the layout and are also quick.  By building them this way you can amas quit a lot without really noticing it.  I have a 3 drawer Ikea box full so far, which as a project on its own would be quite a daunting task.  The cars above are nearly finished except for number plates and tax disks.  They are (left to right)

Austin Princess, from Oxford Diecast.  I was concerned that the tyres looks too big but on looking at the real things, if the are, it’s not by much.  Handily its screwed together so it’s a simple disassembly, matt varnish, add people and weather job.  No excuse really for the tipped straight from the box onto the layout thing that (for me) ruins so many nice layouts.  I also tided up the window frames while I was at it.

Mini – from Corgi but with new wheels and a more modern front grill from the Springside kit. I also enlarged the rear window and replaced the rear lights as well as removing the external door hinges.

Morris Marina – again from Oxford and treated as per the princess.  Nice to see well proportioned tyres on the newer Oxford models.

Austin 1800 – this one is an old Minic model with wheels from a Cararama Mini (tip borrowed from Kier Hardy’s website).  The tyres were cut in half as they were very wide as supplied.

All of these will be kind of old for my layout (the 1800 especially) and there’s still a big gap for 1980’s cars . However I believe a layout should have a good proportion of cars from at least the decade preceding the date it is set and really I probably should have at least as many cars from 1972  as models released in 1987.


Oxford Diecast’s VW transporter

Recently released is the Oxford Diecast model of the VW Transporter (or type 2 (t3) or type 25).  As these were introduced in 1979 and continued in production during the ’80s and into the 90’s in Europe its an ideal candidate for a brummy trader to be pottering around in on the layout.

The model features the end capped bumpers and round headlights that date it between 1980 and 1985 which means it could be either the earlier air cooled or the later water cooled variety.  I don’t know if anything externally differentiates the two. (Hey i’m no expert I’m just reading this from Wiki!) My immediate first impression was that it looked too wide but checking the dimensions it seems to be spot on.  For some reason the van version is left hand drive (the bus version isn’t) but features the seat configuration for right hand drive.

A quick hack

The steering wheel was removed (the model is screwed together by the way), the console above it cut off and both parts were relocated to the right hand side. While I had it in bits I added a driver. The inside of the window frames were painted black (the rubbers are printed on but the insides are white which looks a bit weird) and the bodyshell given a quick coat of matt varnish. I use this one by the way!

Once reassembled the model was given a wash of grime (dark grey for the sides and front, light brown for the roof and back) and the tyres sanded a smidge to give the van some weight (having glued them up solid first).  I just need to sort out the rear view mirrors now.