p4newstreet logo

Brettell Road

Old stuff

While I’ve been in a brake van kinda mood I finally got around to improving an old Hornby LMS 20ton version I had and making it a tad more suitable for Brettell Road.

Pretty basic detailing job on this one. A selection of Midland versions.

Actually this brake van originally came from the Amlwch layout along with the above 47 and 24. Of the three the class 24 is as it was brought. the 47 having been brought a bit more up to date (well 1987 anyway).  I wonder if Amlwch is still around somewhere?

Bit of a different angle.  Let’s call this train an internal user?

Haven’t done a rainy pic for a while. NBL class 21 nestles between another pair of type 2s.


Building plastic kits – some thoughts

Thought I’d do a bit of a more detailed post about building and finishing plastic kits and the thoughts behind it as I go along. As always other methods are available and no one has to follow every step slavishly. Just take from this what you want if it helps at all.  The intended victim in this case is a Parkside LMS (ex MR) 20 ton brake van, kit PC58.  Im not sure how long this kit has been in the Parkside range but it has the look and feel of one of the later kits however the instructions do refer to the Woodhead transfer sheets as a source of lettering and they vanished a long time ago now. More importantly and the reason to devote a little more than my usual ‘heres a bunch of pictures, hope you like them’ approach is this is the last original Parkside kit in my stash so it’s also the last kit I will build that I brought from Richard Hollingworth himself.

So armed with the kit, the instructions, a selection of glues and other rudimentary tools plus the all important prototype references I set to work. Generally parkside kits are as close to model railway lego as you can get.  They kind of fall together however don’t take this for granted and in this case I found that the floor was about 30thou too narrow.  This was evened up with a couple of bits of microstrip either side. The importance of a dry run to check the fit of all of the parts parts cant be overstated.

Another thing not to assume is that the kit is right or accurate. Again generally speaking the vast majority or Parkside kits are but theres a couple that have a few clangers. The vac’ braked 16ton mineral wagon with a 10ft chassis not 9ft and the LMS fruit can with the wrong shaped ends are the better known examples. It’s strange how the right chassis is in the range for the mineral wagon and the common fix for the fruit van is to use the ratio LMS van ends and roof.  As these are all under the Peco banner now you would think this would be an easy fix for them. Perhaps they don’t know?The glues I will be using. as theres no metal to metal joining required the soldering iron can stay turned off for this one. The main glue I will use is the Tamiya extra thin cement.

Building the body

The body assembled,  I drilled the holes for the handrails before putting it together, the instructions say to do this after but i find it easier this way.  Although not really a decision as such with this kit as the handrails aren’t moulded on this is usually the first point where you will start to make your own decisions.

Handrails – do models look better with separately fitted ones?  Yes provided you don’t mangle the body too much removing the moulded ones and the replacements are not all wobbly.  I use 0.35mm nickel silver wire and flat nosed tweezers to shape them.  You need to keep the bends crisp and the straight bits straight. If you mess up a bend don’t waste time trying to straighten the wire out as you wont. Just start again. Separately fitted handrails that are all out of shape against a gouged body will not look any better than the moulded ones you carved off. Whatever you do though if you do have messed up handrails and someone points it out don’t try to claim its because they were bashed about in real life as it’s obviously a bodge! I think this stems a lot from the late 90’s when people were fitting all manner of after market bits and dodgy etches to Lima diesels. The fact that a lot of these parts were worse than what people were carving off the original body seemed to pass people by as separate bits was what you did back then!

Decision 2 – the lamp irons.  Will they look better separately fitted?  Yep but theres another thing to consider, will I knock them off in layout use?  When people are new to finescale models (I don’t like that term but it serves a purpose here) theres a tendency to fit every tiny bit of detail that you can.  With experience of operating your stuff at exhibitions you will find that you tend to draw back from that to point where practicality takes over. Where that point ends up will naturally be different for each of us.

It helps a little to delve into how human beings work. When I was working as an illustrator we placed a lot of emphasis on learning to see. Although we have sight we are not really wired to properly look at things. We are designed to make quick judgements and move on, basically can I eat it or is it going to eat me? What we are good at though is spotting something wrong or out of place.  So a moulded lamp iron in this case will go unnoticed by most people. But one thats been knocked off wont. This pre-determined fascination with the out of place can cloud our judgement of many things.  We notice graffiti on a wall so we think it’s prevalent. We don’t notice the 100 other walls we walked past that didn’t have any. We notice the wagon in a train that looks like it should be in the scrap yard and ignore all those that don’t look like anything like that. This extends to our history too, especially our photographic history. Photographers like the rest of us will ignore the mundane as focus on the thing that catches their eye. If you look at pictures of New Street in 1987 you would believe pretty much every train had a class 50 on the front and there was one DMU a day, as for EMU’s you can forget those completely!

This next stage will be dictated by how the kit in manufactured and can in the right circumstances save time later. If the kit is moulded in all the same colour (and its not black) you can skip this bit. However if the body is one colour and the underframe is black you can safe a lot of painting later if you paint and finish the body before you move on to the underframe which is what I have done here.

The Underframe

A wagon of this size is border line for needing springing or compensation in my experience. On wagons that don’t need it one tip I’ve found that works is to slip a piece of thin paper between the axle and the bearing at one end only while putting it all together. The other end should have no slop but the width of the paper gives just enough movement of 1 axle to keep everything on the rails. A piece of glass to check that the wagon sits square on all 4 wheels at this stage is another must however. Another handy thing is the Brassmasters axle spacing jig that ensures the axles are parallel.  It doesn’t matter how nicely your wagon sits on the glass if its constantly trying to steer itself off the track!

This is the underframe with all the supplied bits in place (except the steps) Its up to you if you chose to stop here or not.

I went for ‘not’ and added the break linkages and safety loops. If you are going to do this drill the holes you will need in the brake shoe moulding before you fit them to the model, it’s nigh on impossible to do after. The safety loops are glued in to bits of 80thou microstrip that have a hole drilled through them.  This is my stop point as there’s more detail that you can add regarding the correct shaped linkages and operating gear behind each wheel.  It’s not something i can see on the layout unless I make a really determined effort to look for it.

Hang on a minute, what was all that rubbish about bits of paper and not compensating stuff then?  Well sometime you can kill 2 birds with just the single bit of garden aggrigate!  Of all the options I am on record as believing that rocking compensation is not the first or even second best option of the 3 we have. However the internal ones do handily provide more rolling resistance than pinpoint bearings and on a brake van and a layout with gradients thats not a bad thing.

Let’s talk about buffers. If your plastic kit has moulded plastic buffer heads, let’s not beat around the bush here, they will be crap! I have yet to see any that aren’t! Options for replacements come from Lanarkshire models, MJT, Wizard and Accurascale. As always check your prototype pictures as the ones on the wagon you are building might not be the ones the kit represents. This applies to axleboxes a lot of the time too.

In this case I opted to keep the moulded stocks and replace the heads with those from MJT, The housing was drilled out very carefully using a hand held pin chuck. Don’t be tempted to use a powered drill as the wall you are left with is very thin and even the slightest bit of heat from the drilling will melt it.  A 0.5mm hole was drilled through the centre of the buffer and through the bufferbeam to account for the tail of the buffer head.   You can chose to spring the buffer if you like. I don’t find it makes any real difference though.

Weight – I try to aim for 50 grams for a 2 axle wagon.  If you have the room inside then these self adhesive car wheel weights are ideal.  This brake van needed an extra 30 grams adding.

Next stage is the running trial. With any kind of van I do this before fitting the roof as once its on i don’t want to try and get back inside. The wagon is tested through all the pointwork and sidings and any derailments or unpleasant jolts or bumps are investigated and corrected. In this case I’m happy to report there were no problems.

The finished build, even at this stage you still need to constantly check your work. note the bit of white near to the closest handrail?  Something I’d not noticed until I looked at the photo. I used the Revell liquid polly shown earlier to fix the roof.  The reason is that the Tamiya stuff evaporates too quickly.  The Revell version is thicker, wont run and gives me a little longer to position the roof.

Weathering

Im very much of the opinion that a restricted pallet is best for all sorts of modelling applications, You don’t want to go too mad! As discussed earlier unless you are going for the scrap yard look you kind of need your weathering to be one of those things thats there but its not really noticed.  An important point I feel is don’t expect one technique to give you all the effects you want and try to work with each technique rather than against it, Things are so much simpler if you do!

So stage 1 washes – to represent washed on dirt you need to wash on the dirt! I make the wash from a mix of Revell 89 and no 9.  If you are doing multiple wagons at once keep changing the mix and the paint to thinner ratio unless you want them all to look the same. Don’t be afraid to go in with neat paint as well to mix it all up a bit and work ‘wet in wet’. Ive done that here on a few planks and the roof. It doesn’t matter if it looks a mess at this stage as you will need to leave it for no longer than 24 hours and potentially clean it all off again with cotton buds and clean thinners. A big part of weathering is not about how you put stuff on but how you clean it off. Having said that I have found on many occasions, especially with planked vehicles, you can skip the cleaning stage and this was the case here.

Next stage is airbrushing.  For this I use AK interactive dark mud as it comes and a mix of black and Humbrol gummetal for greasy/ sooty deposits. Think about in the real world the direction that the atomised dirt hits the vehicle and try to emulate this. Track dirt from about 45 degrees below the model and roof dirt straight down. As aways refer to photos.  What you don’t want is a rally car look as if the model has been flinging itself around a Welsh forest for a week!

The last stage is best described as titivating (and its pretty hard to show the effect it has in pictures but i still think its worth doing).  I use the burnt umber gouache for small deposits of rust. It doesn’t want to sit on enamels all that well so will naturally give a rust like effect. This can be fiddled with with water or paper towels/ cotton buds until you are happy. Its worth noting that if you are doing a vehicle with a lot of rust it’s best to do the gouache stage before the washes.  Ak interactive also make sets of weathering pencils, including a set just for rust, which work well in combination with the gouache.

The lighter brown and gunmetal were used to dry brush areas of wear on the steps and the underframe respectively.  The grease is a wash that contains particles and is used neat around axleboxes and bits of the underframe that are greased in real life.

As I said its hard to see the difference this has in photos. The oval crop is before and the main picture after. While you have the gunmetal out you can pick up some of the thicker paint that always forms on the inside of the lid with a cotton bud and dab it on to the buffer faces to represent more grease.

And there you have it. All that work for a mundane wagon that will hopefully just blend into the scene and go about is business in a most unremarkable, unnoticed way!

 


Here comes the PR!

A while ago I showed a picture of a Powsides ED 7 plank wagon.  ED stands for Earl of Dudley and I said at the time that it was a bit early for the layout and that that PR, Pensnett Railway would be more appropriate. A chance discussion on an industrial railway modellers Facebook group revealed that Planet Industrials actually do a set of transfers for PR wagons so a set was duly ordered. A couple of existing wagons were repainted into red oxide (the ‘shunters truck’ and a grey 7 plank RCH design) and a couple more RCH wagons were knocked up from good old Parkside kits. I decided to keep the Powsides ED one as it was  (although weathered a bit more to make it look more tatty) and do the shunters truck as ED too in a sort of crossover period.  Ive never found a photo of ED and PR wagons mixed together mind you.

The above train is all very ‘corporate’ and it wont appear at shows like this.  The PR wagons will be jumbled up among other mineral wagons. One thought I have had though is by making Brettell Road 2 tracks the industrials will look too out of place on the mainline so the plan is to extend the siding the train is on to the fiddleyard and have them appear from behind the warehouse, using the yard as a exchange sidings.

I was intrigued by the recent Oxford rail tank wagons and decided the yellow Carless Petrol version would break up the sea of grey and bauxite wagons on the layout. As with the ED wagons its really a bit to early for Brettell Road so I’ve weathered it up to look pretty tired.  Theres a few things worth noting with this model. The first is the axle length is odd. Happily its still 2mm and its not odd in a crazy short, Lima way so you can swap P4 wheels onto it and use the original axles. The second thing is that the lettering and the red stripe don’t react well to white spirit. If you want to remove them then great but if you use enamel washes thinned with white spirit for any of your weathering, as I do, and you want to preserve the livery its best to give it a quick coat of matt varnish first.


Just the simple things.

Sometimes it pays to drop back a gear and just do a few simple things that are not too taxing.   Things like a few simple wagon kits or just some pictures. And what could be more simple than the good old Airfix mineral wagon kit?  This ones been converted to a diagram 102 variant and weathered with gouache and a hint of AK interactive weathering pencils for the rust. Next up a mix and match of parkside bits to produce a Hybar.  The rail itself is a neat little etched kit from Rumney Models.

Below a few pictures.

 


DMU project – Done!

One of the things that struck me as a bit weird with the pics of the class 103 underframes I showed last time was that the bogies seemed to be too far inboard from the ends.  The class 103 (and class 110 for that matter) have bogies centres of 40 feet but Hornby have them set closer to 38 feet.  This is not something I’ve ever seen mentioned before with regards to the Hornby 110.On the trailer and the none powered end of the DMBS, because i had used Brassmasters bogies it was simply a case of moving the bogies out. Originally the mounting plate sat neatly inside the moulding (although raised by some 100thou evergreen strip.  Now they sit outside of the moulding by 20thou as can just be seen in the picture.  At the powered ens U opened out the floor at the inner end and simply bent the forward clip of the bogie to push everything back (the sideframes aren’t the best fit to the power bogie and were way to stiff before anyway!).

The bogies have been backdated with bits of wire and microstrip.  Happier now.   With that, some paint, the seating modified and some LEDs, aside from some windscreen wipers I can call these done.

Class 103

The roof vents were kindly printed for my by my friend John Chivers and I extend my thanks.

Class 129

And finally both units together.


The last few DMU’s – Part 2

Attention has moved the the under frames of my DMU project. As I mentioned when building my class 114 the easy option for the 103 would be to stick with the 110 under frames and I would expect most people wouldn’t notice.  However as per my 114 project that wont really do.

The DMBS.  Its easier to start with a center car chassis than a power car as when you cut off the Hornby details it gives you a flat floor to work on rather than just a hole. The battery boxes are from Replica and most of the other (black) bits are spares from a Heljan class 128.  The white bits are scratchbuilt and the buffers are from Lanarkshire models. The heating ducts on a class 103 are quite distinctive as is the way the exhausts are routed past the inner bogie.

The DTCL I must add a note of thanks to Eddie Knorn for his assistance in helping me work out were the bits all go.

For the class 129 the obvious thing to do would be to mount the body on a Bachmann class 105 chassis.  However the class 129 chassis is a bit different to a normal cravens unit and shares some parts with a class 108, especially the distinctive battery boxes. So most of these one came from a Bachmann 108 with again some scratchbuilt parts  Buffers and their stools again come from Lanarkshire models.

With all these there is still a little more to do before paint, namely bogie steps, air horns and lamp irons.


The last few DMUs

Long time followers will recall this old picture of a Hornby Class 110 DMU that I intended to chop up into something a little more ‘local’.  With the acquisition of a Bachmann Derby lightweight as a gap filler it kind of fell off the radar a little. I did debate doing another class 100 but in the end I have decided that a Park Royal class 103 would be the target of my attentions.

A little about the prototypes

These units were introduced in 1957 to the Birmingham LMR region. 20 sets were produced and the last vehicle in passenger use lasted until 1983.  A few vehicles survived a little longer in departmental use (Derby RTC Lab5 lasting until 1991) or as a Sandite unit (1985).  There was another oddity in that one set was converted to a Viaduct Inspection Saloon.  This was withdrawn in 1978 but was saved for preservation.

The 20 sets were all allocated to the Birmingham area for their first decade operating mainly Walsall services before moving on initially to Chester then spreading further afield. Although none standard they did use the blue square coupling code so could work with the majority of other DMU types. Pretty early on they started to suffer from cracking in the bogie frames and their poor reliability saw steam hauled services return to many of their diagrams while the problems were sorted out.  Aside from the oddballs mentioned earlier they only carried 2 liveries. Green (with or without whiskers and later with a small yellow warning panel) or BR Blue (small panel or full yellow end). None received blue and grey livery.

The Model

The similarity between a class 103 and the class 110 is reasonably obvious and (as with my class 100 and 114 conversions) the desired result can be achieved buy cutting parts out and shuffling them around, Plus a few spare panels from previous projects.

The above diagram may be of assistance. The red lines are cuts or areas than need to be removed.  The orange areas are surplus and the blue areas need filling in.  On the driving trailer everything aft of the last door stays the same as the class 110. I didn’t cut into the roof.

Initial stages of assembly.  You can see the additional panel from another body shell in white.

Face on you can see where the windows are opened up to match the class 103. The new frames are 10 x 30 thou microstrip secured to the inner edges. Incidentally in working on this conversion I have come to the conclusion that the class 110 windows aren’t right as supplied. They need to be wider and the angles tops need a slight curve.

The 2 body shells after a coat of primer and more work with filler. The angled tumblehome Hornby used has been rounded off and any missing hinges replaces with etched ones from Southern Pride. I need to add another cental filler to the DMBS yet.

Why do one when you can do 2? 

While in a DMU kinda mood I have started work on a class 129 DPU using a DC kits body kit.

A bit on this prototype as well

3 of these single car units were ordered from Cravens by the LMR.  These had a none standard coupling code (yellow diamond) meaning that the could work with the original Derby Lightweights. Introduced in 1958 they lased until 1973 with one going to the RTC initially for brake testing but later for hydraulic transmission tests and gaining the name ‘Hydra’.  None of the 3 survived into preservation. Although 55997 was initially allocated to Walsall it was 55998 that was most often to be found working int he Birmingham area during the late 1950s mainly on New Street to Walsall, Wolverhampton or Coventry services. Later it would regularity continue on to Rugby and one slightly unusual service was Alrewas to New Street with produce from market gardens.  As with the other DPU class, class 128 they would regularly pull a tail load.

The Model

Charlie supplied his class 129 kit with a standard class 105 cravens DMU cab moulding (no doubt tooling up another cab just for this class of 3 units wouldn’t make a huge amount on commercial sense).  So there is a little work to do to make it closer to the prototype, mainly removing the destination box and moving the marker lights down. I elected not to use the supplied flat bass etch for the route indicator box and made my own from microstrip.

The main bodyshell assembled with extra little details.  On something so plain sided it pays to add these little things to break up the sea of grey plastic

 

 


More thoughts on Brettell Road 2 but not kinda not at the same time

A while ago I shared my initial thoughts on extending Brettell Road.  For those that missed it click here.

The initial plan required some modification to the Left hand end of the existing layout but otherwise it was pretty much an add on.  Then the coronavirus happened and while plans were firmed up no wood was cut (lazered) and its not progressed to any kind of physical reality.  In that time my thoughts have turned to correcting the first regret, that being that Brettell Road 1 wasn’t double track to begin with.  This would also have the benefit of replacing the mainline track bed with ply as initially I used MDF.  The layout was only supposed to be a play thing if you remember.

This would require some additional tweaks to Brettell Road 1 but actually not as drastic as one might think.

Starting with the left hand end, where the new boards would attach to the existing layout in addition to the track.  I was actually quite generous with the track spacing and the double track would fit with only a slight tweak to the wall shown by the arrow. There’s another advantage here as my first plan would involve splitting the single slip across the baseboard joint but the double track pulls everything further in to the layout meaning the entire slip falls on this board. No changes would be required to the bridges.

At the right hand end there’s a benefit to slewing the track away from the front of the layout with space then for the second track in front of it.  The plan is to extend the furthest siding a little while shortening the front one a smidge.  This would allow me to start curving the front wall just after the canal bridge to generate the extra space.  I will need to build a new bridge. None of these tweaks are particularly drastic.

Below is a mock up of how it would look.


Compound finished off.

So back to the Bachmann compound then.

The body  looks pretty much spot on to me and the firebox Bachmann had modeled suits the loco I have chosen to do. 40925 was a late survivor and based at Bournville so that’s local enough  for me.  I added the lifting points to the front frames and the large pipe coming from the smokebox. This is an exhaust steam injector and not all compounds had them. As far as I can tell they were only fitted on one side, that being the side opposite the driver (compounds came in both left and right hand drive versions).  The smoke box has been painted in Revell no9 and the difference looks a little stark at this stage.

The ejectors are the Bachmann ones cut down, again refer to a pictures of your specific loco as these varied a lot. There’s a connecting rod that appears to go from the back of the ejectors to somewhere near the slide bar support bracket. In the pictures that show this well it always looks extremely close to the face of the rear bogie wheel. I decided the best way to replicate this was to mount it on the actual bogie instead.

Crew from Modelu – the driver looks distinctly uncomfortable straining to see. As the compounds had very large cab roofs I haven gone for a rain sheet on this model.

On to the tender

The body Bachmann supplied was a later Fowler type with coal tunnel and doors. Of course the loco I had picked had the earlier type without them. Luckily Brassmasters do a conversion kit and coal rails so that was what I used. The floor in the Bachmann model is flat so I knocked up the coal chute from plasticard.  Incidentally the supplied handrails are absolutely fine and don’t need replacing. They had to be on the one side for no other reason than I mangled it!

So the model has been weathered (to look tired but not scrap line) and aside from the wheel balance weights I can call this one done.


A slight diversion

One thing that’s always bugged me a little about the above image is the coupling rods on the class 11 (left). I cant remember why but I used the Brassmasters standard rods rather than their finescale ones. Well I finally got around to swapping them over.

Another little distraction is this Bachmann anchor tank wagon.

A simple wheel swap with a new etched discharge wheel and new ladders from Stenson models.

A bit more of a ‘proper’ project was this diagram 1/163 iron ore hopper from Wizard models. Quite a neat little project this one.

Finally, i don’t want to remind anyone but the nights are drawing in again!


The Bachmann Compound – part 1

I found a relatively cheap Bachmann Compound recently and thoughts have turned to what to do with it.

Lets start with a little disclaimer. Alan Gibson supplies a set of wheels to convert this loco to P4 and I would have every confidence that just swapping the wheels would get a p4 steam loco up and running pretty quickly. After all a 4-4-0 has got to be about the best case scenario you could really ask for. I didn’t try it myself but we’ve had a wheel swapped GWR Grange (I think) running on Moor Street for years now.

Being relative new to RTR steam locos, this is actually my first RTR tender loco I’ve had since i was a kid, there’s always 2 areas that stand out to me as looking a little weak on pretty much all RTR steam locos. No, not the wheels although big, in your face, wheels do perhaps yield the greatest benefit of swapping to p4 visually. The areas I am talking about are bogies and tenders. More specifically in the case of the latter, tender underframes. They just always seem so, for want of a better description, flat!

The bogie

So to the bogie. There was nothing about the supplied RTR one that i wanted to keep so its a straight swap with a Comet example. As supplied they can be built with central springing for side control but no springing on the axles. Setting some simple springs up however couldn’t be easier.

The loco chassis

To the loco. I decided I wanted to use some of the Comet chassis bits but not exactly as intended. So the first process was deciding what of the RTR offering I wanted to keep and what I wanted to replace.

I wanted to use the sideframes in a sort of Brassmasters easychas inspired way and keep the original Bachmann drive. Initially I thought the crosshead was just an RTR bodge but they do actually look like that. So that and the cylinders were keepers. I also liked the brake gear so that stayed.

The Comet chassis is not designed for this model and is too long. The wheelbase between the driving wheels and hence the coupling rods are also too long. Comet do specify this is the case on their website. The Bachmann frames are actually the right width at the front of the loco but narrow from the cylinders back to accommodate the 00 wheels. The cylinders look, from underneath that they might fit on little pegs coming down from the footplate. They don’t, they slot sideways into the chassis. Its best to pop them off and keep them safe.

I decided to split the chassis behind the forward step to loose some of its extra length. The front part being a relatively easy fit. The rear part needed some trial and error to cut away little sections to get it to fit. The Bachmann model is driven on the front driver ( it looks like the chassis was designed for gears but to both axles but it doesn’t have them), so the Comet chassis was carefully titivated so that the rear axles position matched. I wasn’t too worried about the front driver as I has decided to keep it rigid.

By leaving the RTR style bearings off the rear driving axle you get a little room for vertical movement. A Brassmasters sprung bearing was modified with a bit of tube (the Bachmann and hence Alan Gibson axles are an odd size). The frames were glued in place using 60 thou plasticard to space them out to something more prototypical. The springs are part of the RTR keeper plate so they are too to far back but I decided to leave them as is.

The brake gear needs a bit of modification to fit over the new frames and it was here that I hit a little unexpected snag. Bachmann use bigger wheels than scale. I wonder if this is because its a development of the national railway museum model which being an earlier example had bigger wheels? Anyway the effect of this is the brake gear sits too low and would likely hit the rails when crossing pointwork. The solution is to take a mm out of the top of the keeper plate so that everything moves up a little.

Valve gear

Lets be honest RTR valve gear is generally a bit weird. Its often both too big and to thin at the same time. The Bachmann coupling rods are about scale height (ignoring the bosses which are huge!!) but being only 1 piece of metal aren’t thick enough. So these were discarded and the Comet ones used in their place. Suitability shortened by 2mm.

The connecting rods as supplied are quite good though. Much more meaty and they feature the big square bosses that the Comet ones don’t, so hybrid valve gear it is then! The Bachmann crank pins are 2mm wide (really!) so a bit of tube was soldered in to make them fit the Gibson crank pins. While I was at it I made another 2 collars for the trailing driver a the coupling rods on a compound are outside of the connecting rods.

On to the tender

Body great but underframe – ugh!

Luckily Lanarkshire models do a replacement chassis kit for a Fowler tender. This was assembled as per the instructions. For the outer frames I was kindly supplied a spare etch by Brassmasters and mated this with some Comet springs and axleboxes. I decided to keep the Bachmann steps as they are moulded as part of the tender body.

As is often the case with this sort of stuff, the most pleasing view is the one you wont ever see!


A somewhat unfocused post.

Something that always bugged me about my Heljan class 27 was the somewhat odd buffers. A long time ago i got a set of replacements from Sutton Loco Works and its just one of those things I never quite got around to. Well now that little job can come off the list.

Finished the roof of my station building – just need a layout to plant it on!

The gutters are a recent introduction from Modelu. I found they don’t like superglue at all but stick very nicely with liquid Poly (in this case Tamiya extra thin).

Popped back to my Kirtley to pick up a few things that irked. The loco to tender gap has been tightened up a bit and the rain cover tidied.

Crew from Modelu

Bit more off a proper project this one. A clasp braked 16 ton mineral from a Parkside kit on a Rumney Models underframe. The only down side to Justin’s stuff is it looks better not painted! A few pics below for history.


Another ‘tweaks’ post

Bit of a random post this time but I have been revisiting a few things. Be warned though these are all really subtle and if I didn’t point them out I suspect no one would ever know.

Starting with the safety valves on my prairie. As supplied it was a pretty flat dish with 4 blobs to represent the valves. A bit of drilling and some wire gives something a little better.

I’ve also gone back (again) to my Dapol railcar for another little tweak.

As its not all that obvious I have fiddled with the bogies a little. Some 3x4mm triangles and some microstrip was used to change the sideframe shape to something more accurate. I also got a spare set of sideframes and cutting the springs and axle boxes of the new ones, filing down the old ones and sticking them over the top had given me more relief.

Sometimes its nice to look back at where we started to see how far we have come.

While i was in a railcar kinda mood this is my detailed Lima one. I haven’t done anything to it, it just tends to avoid the camera for some reason.

Austerity hides at the headshunt. Again no tweaks just a piccie.

Now this is properly subtle. I have revisited the layout with some Tamiya smoke and AK wet effects to see if I could increase the wet look a little. The smoke provides the darkening effect of the rain.

It a little easier to see on the light walls of the pub.

The thing is I know its darker because i knew what it was like before. In order to give fresh eyes something to compare it with I needed a few areas of contrast.

By the warehouse i can leave the area under the canopy dry to give the contrast I was looking for.

and at the other end the areas shaded from the rain by the bridges. Its important to make sure the rain falls in the same direction. So the buildings don’t have smoke applied to the sheltered walls. Its the area above where I feel the effect has come out best.


A little something I’ve been dipping into.

One little project I have been dipping in and out of now and then has been the station buildings for part 2 of Brettell Road.

This is the smaller building. The real buildings at Brettell Lane were wooden but of a GWR origin. As Brettell road is more midland I used the Ratio (previously Parkside) LNWR station panels. These or similar were used in the Birmingham area so that was near enough. The canopy valence and supports are from London road models and the poster boards from N brass. The chimney is from Unit models.

The side in the first picture faces away from the public so rather than have a blank wall I decided to give the viewers a sense of being inside the building. (it is supposed to be raining remember, who wants to stand outside?)

The main building is the same but bigger. The above image gives a rough feel of the look im after. I actually shot it like this because I haven’t done the roof yet!

I have mentioned in a previous post the idea of letting the layout have little bit of a life of its own. Originally i was going to use the name Brettell Grove not Brettell Road so why not an old station nameboard with the original name?


Back to the canal.

Back in the early days of Brettell Road I represented rain falling on the canal as seen above.

Over the years however the effect of this became lost so I have revisited this area of the layout to get the effect back. Also to make the canal look a little more downtrodden. I have used a thin layer of clear resin and the same baking soda in wet varnish trick as I used originally. Results are below.


Those little Mainline iron ore hoppers.

Anyone modelling in 4mm scale for any length of time has probably come across the Airfix/Mainline/possibly Dapol/ Bachmann 21, 22 or 24 ton Iron ore hoppers. Based on a Charles Roberts version with the standard, at the time, stretched to fit compromises to fit a generic 10ft wagon chassis. They do however make a good little project for ‘tarting up a bit’.

Geoff Kent wrote a great article about just such an exercise in MRJ 182. I have however deviated from his sage advice in a few areas.

The hopper is easy with 3mm cut out center but offset to the side of the bracing to hide the cut. For the chassis I cut it into 3 parts to retain the middle detail. Geoff thinned the base and removed the top of the chassis on his models but I decided to cut the base away around the edge and mount the chassis flush with the top. The chassis being a Parkside 9ft example.

The door closing gear was knocked up from microstrip and a few bits of brass., Shiny bits on the chassis came from Ambis, Mainly Trains and Bill Bedford.

After a light weathering. I still need to add the rain effect yet mind you. The ladders are from Stenson Models.


Last tweak to the presentation.

With Brettell Roads new roof design the last thing to do was remove the original pelmet.

I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that removing it would open up the layout quite as much as it has.

This is the view from my eye height. Obviously this higher angle wasn’t available to me before now.


Just a gallery post (no need for words)


RTR wagons

I’ve been looking at a few RTR Wagons recently from Bachmann.

Slope sided mineral. I really like the chassis design on this one as the brake gear is separate and for P4 can be moved out to line up with the wheels with just a little bit of trimming. As well as my usual gouache approach for rust I’ve also tried out some weathering pencils from AK interactive. I won’t go into any detail on those as yet as I’m still getting to grips with them.

Bachmann’s presflo’s are a lovely little model with just a change of wheels, couplings and buffers required. The buffers on these were very odd and I’m not really sure what they were supposed to be so I have used Accurascale ones in their place. I’ve also added more weight as they hardly weighed anything as supplied.

Im not a huge fan of textures in weathering as I believe they often look too heavy in 4mm scale but on these wagons the dry concrete could often look really caked on so i used talc in wet paint as part of the process.


Return to the roof

A while ago I showed a picture of the framework for Brettell Roads new roof. I was going to have this done for Scalefour North but given the Covid-19 crisis the show was canceled and the urgency to get it done went with it. However I have turned my attention back to this with thoughts on the material.

The first material I brought was just too heavy so i didn’t even try to use it. The weight wasn’t something i had really considered. This is the second material, much lighter but it let too much light through. On top of that my efforts were too scruffy and would have bugged me if I left it.

So this is material 3 – Much happier now and with the help of my wife much neater as well. The image shows it before I finished the front off and the supports will obviously need to be darkened.

The above image shows the lighting on the layout pretty much as the eye sees it. Not as dark as before but still obviously night time.


Bashing Buildings

When it comes to building I admit I tend to just get on and scratchbuild them. Part of this is due to ignorance of whats actually out there but recently I picked up a couple of Wills kits and have had a go at these instead.

First up is the kit for a lamp store. You actually get 2 in the kit and these are for the slightly different GWR design but can be adapted to something more ‘midland’ pretty easily by shortening the sides to form a 6ft square structure. I cut out the door and remounted it flush as well as replacing the roof with thinner plasticard. On the other end I added a few extra window bars (see below).

The other kit was for the ‘station garage’ which i have chopped about to give a industrial looking wooden building. The roof again is plasticard (the wills stuff is quite thick) and the vents are from unit models.


Brettell Road 2

As the song goes, regrets, I’ve had a few but unlike the song I am going to mention them. With Brettell road pretty much finished off thoughts have turned to what to do next. Before anyone asks, New Street isn’t calling me back at the moment.

Brettell road was only supposed to be a play thing for home, but much in the way of New Street which started with the idea that you could model the western end station throat in 8ft, Brettell Road went a little bit wrong.

It was designed like an exhibition layout but not as an exhibition layout if that makes sense. In the urge to get something done and 1950’s midland railway practice being alien to me at the time there was one major aspect of the track plan that I have always regretted. You see, for those like me who didn’t know, the Midland had a thing about facing points, especially coming from passenger lines onto goods loops and yards. What they preferred was a single slip and the train would pass the slip. Back up through the slip onto the wrong line before proceeding into the yard. Had I known this at the time (or more accurately been bothered to find out!) I would have done the Brettell Road main line as double track and used this arrangement. For the operational interest as well as its not really something you see done on models.

The other regret is about proportion. You see for an exhibition layout that’s 16ft overall but only 50% or 8ft scenic I feel the proportions are off. If it was 24ft with 16 ft scenic then a viewing ratio of 66% sits much better.

And so, presenting Brettell Road part 2. An extension to the original incorporating a station and yard based very loosely on the real Brettell Lane. Doubling up the track on the existing 2 board is still a none starter but with minor adaptation to the track work at the left hand end of the original I can get the single slip in and get in the operational interest I missed the first time. The yard will rise slightly to be level with the platforms which is something I’ve borrowed from the features of the yard that was at Kings Heath. I plan to do the station in the very last week of service to keep with the run down feel (hey no one really expected this to be pretty did they?)


A quick win, relatively speaking.

With my ongoing Duchess build my thoughts turned to a little quick win project (also with Scalefour North coming up at the end of March). I said relatively speaking in the title because a few years ago I would have likely considered this quick win as a bit of an undertaking but there you go. When we were at the Wakefield show with Moor Street, my attention was drawn to a cheap Lima GWR small prairie tank loco. They were not common at all on the Stourbridge to Wolverhampton line but their larger sisters, the Large prairie were somewhat a mainstay of the line.

I know Hornby are doing a new model but a dirt cheap Airfix example was found (none runner) along with a comet chassis and I set to work.

Stage one – body detailed and the chassis built. I modified the pony trucks a little and sprung them using a method outlined by Dave Holt (see here). The original smokebox door was too small and a few extra details were added to the body. After this picture was taken I also reduced the height of the safety valve bonnet.

A quick blast of grey primer and a liberal(ish) dose of archers rivet transfers and the body was read for the paint shop. A few images of the finished result follow.


Why we still need books.

Although they have apparently been around for a while now I’ve only recently come across the Locomotive Portfolios series of books from Pen and Sword.

Presented in an almost square format and hard backed at 250 or more pages they seem well detailed and have a very large number of pictures (some in colour). From what I’ve seen so far I will be keeping an eye on this series.

While on the subject of books one of this things that had drawn me onto Brettell Road and away from New Street for the last few years is research. Its a side of the hobby that I really enjoy and I feel that New Street was becoming less about learning stuff and more about producing stuff. That’s not to say I knew all there was to know, far from it but I would go as far to say I had a pretty good idea where to find stuff.

With Brettell road it was all familiar but at the same time so different and its this that has drawn me in. Its a railway I knew but clearly didn’t know at all and it definatley ticked my learning stuff box.

One thing that really surprised me is the reliance on books. Its easy, now we are well into the 21st century to think we can get all we need online but the truth is that is far, far from the case. Yes the internet is great but when you are a somewhat detail obsessed railway modeller looking for a specific thing its next to useless. The information just isn’t out there in the digital world and i wonder if it will ever be? We will always need books.