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Project Coronation – Tender part 2

The tender chassis is now effectively done – Not a lot else to say really so here’s some pictures.

Right hand side

Rear end

Front, or loco end.

Project Coronation – Tender part 1

I’ve moved away from the loco for a while as the next stage of the build is the cylinders and I don’t have the castings i will need for them just yet. So attention has shifted to the tender.

The first stage is the outside sub frames – a simple box really. The kit allows for springing or internal compensation. I’ve opted for springing.

Underside of the tender showing the sub frame, brake gear and water scoop gear. A little fiddly but its been fun to build so far.

Project Coronation – Part 2

So progress continues on my Coronation build.

The front frame is as far as I can go for the moment. (I don’t have the cast bits for the loco yet. If you are wondering about the cylinders they are a separate sub assembly.

No problems with the pony truck so far. The kit provides for both the earlier and later types. This is the later one.

The bogie is compensated. As the bogie is the only part of the loco that traps the wheels in place I have used some old/rejected wagon wheels for the moment. I ideally only want to put wheels onto the axle once if I can.

Without the wheels in the way.

I couldn’t resist a temporary mock up to see get a better feel for the loco. I’ve used a High Level Road runner + gearbox. The main drivers don’t have their springs in place yet so its sitting a little off at the moment.

Project Coronation

Not sure where to put this one as its not New Street and its not Brettell Road either. Yet at the same time it kinda fits in both too but sticking with the Brummy theme its going here.

I am currently embarked on building a test build of the forthcoming Brassmasters Coronation or Duchess kit. Way before I got distracted with Brettell Road I always thought that if Brassmasters ever did a Duchess i would have a go at building one as 46235 ‘City of Birmingham’. Well now they are and so I am!

Of course its a personal opinion thing but I never really liked streamlined steam locos. While the Duchesses were a little more thoughtfully designed than the god awful GWR efforts I always thought they looked a bit like an upturned bath tub and have to admit the A4’s did look a fair bit better. However with the streamlining taken off the Duchesses were ‘it’. The steam locomotive version of the Concorde moment. To my eyes, at least, the pinnacle of steam loco perfection.

Anyway enough hero worship and on to the model. Starting with…

The main sub-frames. The loco frames come in 3 sub sections related to the wheels. A driving wheel section, a pony truck section and a bogie section.

The chassis upside down, test fitting the main coupling rods.

The main frame with the brass overlays fitted.

The front or bogie area sub-frame.

More to follow.

More Nostalgia

A while ago I mentioned a lovely little book from Hoxton Mini Press that featured images of the east end from the 1960s to the 1980s. Now theres an equally as great follow up featuring 1980-1990. OK still not Brum but the period is about spot on. Loads of great street scenes, vehicles and less than pretty buildings. Simple things that trigger long forgotten memories like the plastic folding seats that bus stops had! Highly recommended.

see https://www.hoxtonminipress.com/collections/books/products/the-east-end-in-colour-1980-1990

or for both books https://www.hoxtonminipress.com/collections/books/products/east-end-bundle

Quietly influential

The two wagons pictured above were the first 2 wagon kits I ever built. The grampus is from the older parkside kit and the turbot from the Cambrian kit. Both have been upgraded since I built them with Rumney models parts and both have seen RTR versions appear in relatively recent years.

When I built these though the options for 4mm scale modern wagons was very limited indeed. Hornby had their range of air braked 4 wheeled wagons on a very generic underframe and Lima had some useful bogie wagons (all with somewhat useless bogies). Bachmann hadn’t really appeared back then so if you wanted the trains you could see at the time you had to build them yourself.

Admittedly the grampus (which was my first kit) was a bit of an odd one out in the Parkside range and it was more the longevity of the prototypes that made this kit suitable. While Cambrian had carved a very nice little corner of the market for themselves with their dual ranges of engineers wagons and airbraked prototypes. Without these who knows where my interest in the making things aspect of the hobby would have gone?

The reason I’m being nostalgic is down to 2 people that the hobby has recently lost and will be sorely missed. Richard Hollingworth was the softly spoken gentleman behind Parkside Dundas while Colin Parks was one of the 2 brothers behind Cambrian models. Rest in peace gentlemen, and thank you.

Accurascale Buffers

Last year Accurascale turned their attention from the railways of Ireland to British rail. While people got very excited about their first wagon (not that the excitement wasn’t well deserved) i was more taken with their decision to sell the buffers separately. 3 types are available and come in packs of 8 for just £2.95. they come ready assembled and are sprung with plastic bodies and metal heads. The lack of a baseplate makes them ideal for the older style of wagon kits from Airfix (see below) and Cambrian and the older Parkside wagons where this detail is moulded on to the bufferbeams. Theres a smidge more work to use them on newer style kits that have the buffer bodies moulded on and you will need to source a baseplate from another source if your intended bufferbeam is completely flat. I like them and i really hope Accurascale continue with this modeller friendly approach.


Ticking off the turbots

A while ago I modified a Cambrian Turbot kit with a Rumney Models bogie bolster E underframe. (see here). Ive finally got around to doing the others too. Here they are on a visit to Brettell Road.

Return to Motorails

A long time ago now I started work on 3 motorail coaches for New Street. The motorail train at 15 coaches will be the longest on the layout.   The first coach was relatively easy (the blue and grey one in the picture) but the blue ones stalled because I wanted to do the ones that had Mk1 style divided windows.  I got as far as drawing up and etch but never got it actually produced.  However Brian of Extreme etches has done a set of window frames for the BG coach and these are the same so i can finally tick these 2 off as well.  Some standard GUVs had these windows too so ill be doing some of those as well.

Weathering track – some thoughts

One topic that seems to come up fairly regularly on forums and Facebook groups is weathering track. I thought I’d do a mini article on my thoughts and how I approach this subject. As always other methods apply.

The prototype

As with any modelling activity you need to look at the real thing if you want to copy it. You don’t necessarily need to understand it and the advice model what you see, not what you think you know applies. If you are modelling a real place then the jobs pretty much done for you but it pays to look at references as close as you can to the timescale you are modelling. Even when track is brand new it actually isn’t. this was taken a few days after they relayed the eastern end of new street.  Note the use of wooden sleepers, not all brand new track uses concrete or steel sleepers. The rails are very rusty and there’s already evidence of the trains using it. The visible colours of he pandrol clips wont last long. Some plain flat bottomed track that to any modeller would be considered clean. things to note are the welds where it was joined, the rail colour has spread to the sleepers in places and some of the ballast is on top of the sleepers. I’ve found when it come to track being really neat isn’t always he best thing.  Its subtle but look at how the 2 rails are not the same colour. The inside face seems dustier than the outside. The weather changes things – the rails look very dark because they are wet. The wetness seems to mask some of the subtleties seen in the previous picture. Around points things have to move and as such they are greased. Note how the grease from the rod passing under the rail has manages to creep onto the web of the rail above it?  The rail dust is visible around the baseplates and the third rail is a completely different colour to the running rails. I include this picture because it illustrates an important point. 2 tracks can be side by side and look different. There are many reasons for this. The tracks might be different ages. The trains might be doing something different depending on the direction they are going. If they are braking then there will be more brake dust. The trains themselves might be different too, loaded freight trains that carry loose material do tend to drop things and push dust along with them.  If your line had a heavy use of a particular type of train then the material itself can affect the look of the track and distort its colouring.  Also track weathering is directional. As the trains move along they tend to push any dust or debris along with them. As we run on the left in the UK the left hand line will tend to look the dirtier of the two when looking away from you. You can see this effect here and it pays to weather your track in the direction the trains are moving for best effect.

Modelling it.

If I am using wooden sleepers then I tend to lay the track first then give it a base coat of a mucky brown colour. I use JLTRT track colour but I’m not sure if you can still get it. Halfords do a decent matt brown in their range of camouflage spray paints which is good as well. You don’t need to be too precious as it is just the base colour. I then paint the rail sides with either Humbrol matt leather (look for tins with the union flagon the side, the others are weird and too green) or Revell 84 before ballasting. You can get a little tool for paining rails that consists of a little roller fed from a reservoir. To be honest I tried it ans didn’t get on with it. A nice flat brush seems much easier. Do all this before the ballasting. Flat bottom track on New Street.  It was pretty new in 1987 and the rails had a distinctly different colour to the bullhead stuff. As its bi directional i sprayed the track from both directions. Firstly with a light coat of Revell 84 and then a mix of gun-metal and black. Note the grease around the fishplates done with the same colour and a simple card mask to prevent overspray. Sidings outside New Street signal box, It pays to have all the scenery immediately next to the track in place before the weathering. Overspray onto these elements is something that would happen in real life.   Note much more gunmetal/black colour where the loco’s stand. Make sure that you repaint the checkrails once you’ve cleaned the rail tops A black sharpie is good for keeping them dirty or you can chemically blacken them as well. Close up of the end of a double slip. Older sidings on Brettell road.  I used my finger to ‘smudge in some powder paint to the ballast to give the less cared for look. Some static grass gives an impression that the yard is losing the battle with nature. While in some cases weeds can creep into sleepers or even force their way through them it pays not to have your greenery on top of them.

Its all pretty simple stuff really but as I said at the start, observation is the key.

HEA steps

As you may be aware my friend Phil has taken over the wagon bits and kits side of Colin Criag’s useful range and set up Stenson models. Its hoped this will grant Colin more time to develop stuff as well as new things Phil wants to develop himself. One of the new bits is this rather handy etch for the HEA steps. Phil has used some good thinking in the design ensuring that the end result has a neat and robust way of actually attaching to the wagon (some purveyors of etched bits take note).  The same steps were found on the MEA and MFA wagons too.  One down 17 to go!



HEA steps and instructions

Grampus test etch

A few years ago I was working on a fleet of grampuses (yes that is the plural before anyone asks) for New Street but the project stalled when I decided i wanted to etch new baskets, door bangers and steps for them. This has been on my to do list for a long time but things have changed in that time and when Justin at Rumney models said he was thinking of looking at the same I dropped my plans in favour of just waiting for his. I don’t see a lot of point in duplication in this hobby (although some of the RTR chaps seems a little obsessed with it at the moment) especially when I’m just doing bits I want and someone else is doing bits as part of their business. I’m more than happy to let the guys doing this for a job get on with it basically.
Justin has kindly sent me a test etch to try out and the results of which can be seen above. There is, of course more detail to add but a this point if what you see is plastic it’s from Parkside. If its metal then its from Rumney models. The wagon the right way up (I’ve straightened the bent door banger). Justin is hoping to have these ready for September so keep checking his website. I’m going to need a fair few of these!

Rumney Models Website.

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.

More mk1s

As coach building continues for New Street, much of it is more of the same and to some extent so is thisnse-mk1

Another Bachmann mk1, fitted with replica bogies and the usual details. Like the rest of my Bachmann based NSE liveried stock I repainted the blue to something lighter which I feel better matches the early vehicles so painted. The IC liveried coach behind was completed at the same time.

revisiting a class 47

One of my early class 47s featured a Lima body on an Athearn PA1 chassis as below. 47433-on-platform-6This was done before I settled on the windscreen modification for the Lima 47 (I don’t think Shawplan actually had done them at the time) so I wanted to revisit it to make the face match the others on the layout. Along the way I had been collecting cheap ViTrains 47s so while it was in for an overhaul I swapped the chassis too.   The results can be seen below. 47433-redo

Dave Hewitt

Long time readers will have seen mention on many occasions of a little company called Unit Models. When I first came across them they did a range of resin bits mostly for US modellers in HO scale but what a range it was. Noting spectacular but they produced no end of useful little bits and pieces for people who scratchbuild buildings and the like. Things like vents, wall fans, lockers etc. The sort of stuff that was a bit of a ball ache to scratch build yourself. signal-box---pre-weatheringThe roof vents you see here are from them and as they didn’t do the exact ones I needed Dave was only to happy to do some for me, he didn’t even seem to charge any extra for them either!  Well Sadly Dave passed away recently and the business is up for sale. I hope someone picks it up and continues to produce this specific but invaluable range of bits and bobs and its sad to see such a lovely chap taken from us. My thoughts with his friends and family.


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

DCC controlled Dinghams

I originally wrote about this several years ago but since the topic has come up again on a forum I’m going to take a little look back at my thoughts on couplings.

There are 2 schools of thought on the issue of coupling trains together. Something that looks like the real thing, or something that can work automatically. The downsides of these are that the real thing type can be fiddly (and the closer you get to dead scale the more fiddly it gets) and the often bemoaned ‘hand of god’ that seems to be wheeled out as a regular complaint by some forum go-ers. The automatic type doesn’t look like the real thing (unless you are doing some sort of buckeye type prototype) and many of them require fixed magnets and an odd ‘shuffle’ to be performed by the driver to uncouple.  How this shuffle looks any better than the hand of god I don’t really know and to my mind its better to credit your viewer with the ability to suspend their disbelief for a moment while you uncouple a vehicle than for said vehicle to look wrong all of the time!

Problem is with New Street I don’t have much choice. Loco’s will need to be changed and all that overhead along with a shopping centre means that a manual hook isn’t going be in any way practical!   So automatic it will have to be and as only certain rakes will need to be uncoupled some sort of DCC on board solution seemed the obvious answer

dingham-raisedProof of concept. The coupling of choice being the Dingham coupling which will couple to a Smiths hook (not automatically mind you), By fitting these to coaches that have gangways they can be hidden as much as possible and there’s no requirement for a weird coupling on the loco. As supplied the Dingham has a steel dropper that when passing over a magnet is pulled down to raise the loop. By fitting a magnet instead and using an opposing magnet the loop can be raised from inside the vehicle.

electro-dingham-1By salvaging an electro-magnet from a cheap relay and wiring it to a DCC decoder this process can be simply automated. with no power the loop sits in its normal position.

electro-dingham-2But when power is supplied via a decoder function the loop is raised and coupling/uncoupling can be done. It’s all quite simple really!


Dingham Autocoupler

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

Going about it all backwards

One of the first kit wagons I built was the Cambrian Turbot. Back then it had super fragile bogies but was, and still is, a decent kit. The current version comes with one piece bogies so they don’t tend to disintegrate as soon as you look at them anymore.

A while ago Justin Newett of Rumney models produced an upgrade kit for the Lima bogie bolster E and since that where the Turbots came from it seemed sensible to use one of these to update my ancient and small fleet of Turbots. (Kind of the reverse of what BR did.)revised-turbotAbove is a comparison of the new underframe and the old. Because of the good design of he kit its dead easy to build although I did have to cut the baseplate in half as my solebars were closer together than the Lima model’s.

turbot-undersideThe view no one will ever see! These are the newer type of one piece bogie which Cambrian do as a spare.

Cambrian Models

Rumney Models

New Street, new board

Back in the latter half of last year when Tim and I did the boards for Brettell Road we also cut the next 2 boards for New Street. While the boards for Brettell Road were experimental both in design and materials we didn’t want to jump that far with New Street so sticking with what we know we opted for ply.
This is the first of the two. A simple rectangle but the awkward part was that the surface isn’t flat as the trackbed drops down as you leave the station. This board will be entirely under the tunnel but I plan to leave a letterbox in the front so you can peek in. The jigsaw shape in the top surface is due to Tim’s cutter not being long enough (he now has one that can do boards this size with ease).
One thing I did forget was although we etched the track plan and cut holes for the point droppers into the top sheet I forgot to include the holes on the bottom one! (note for next time). I also mistakenly glued the back boards the bring way round (hence no jigsaw as Tim kindly re cut it for me on the bigger cutter).

The next board will be similar and will recreate the area I originally did for the plank.

As always, thanks to Tim for his help.

revisited class 86 – the body

class 86/4 jsw etches
Having stripped off most of the old detail I have now got effectively back to where I started! I have replaced the headcode box sandbox filler covers and TDM sockets with my own etches.  The headlight was removed and re-attached straight (Yeah I know) and the jumpers are from a Hornby 50. One thing I didn’t pick up on last time was that class 86/4 had a single body mounted lamp iron like a class 87 and not twin buffer mounted ones like a class 86/2. Not sure why I never noticed this before.

Next project – revisit an old class 86

class 86/4 to redo

One of my early electric loco projects was this class 86/4 built using the Craftsman conversion kit. There are several areas that I need to look at but I am hoping I can avoid a complete repaint on this.

First up the chassis, It will need converting to a Bachmann warship drive as per the rest of my class 86 fleet. I’ve covered this in other places but never on my own site so I will give a few tips on how this is done.  The blanking plates for the bodyside clips are visible so they will need looking at and the sandbox fillers are the early type. The headcode box will need replacing as will the TDM cables and MU boxes (Spare Hornby class 50 ones at the ready). Also the handrails are too chunky and the bufferbeam detail will need redoing. Finally I will need to knock up another reworked Sommerfeldt pantograph which is something I have been meaning to cover too.

A brief return to the 101

You may remember the discussion on improving the Lima 101 turned to the windscreen problem as this is the only area (at least in the body) where the Bachmann model scores over the Lima one. Well a kind-hearted soul sent me some window frames to fix the Lima model and the results are presented below.
improved lima 101 windscreens
I was never that put out by the Lima windscreens but side by side it’s quite a difference.