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New stuff

With the growth of 3d printing theres been quite a few new companies appearing this year offering 3d printed products. The quality of these can vary somewhat and many show CAD renders on their sites so you can’t be all that sure what you are actually going to get. Ive mentioned 3d Printing corner before on my road vehicles thread as supplying some good stuff and recently I’ve been equally impressed with Model Railway Scenes as supplying equally high quality bits and pieces. Some of which are shown below.

The salt and grit boxes come a pack of 4 (2 of each) while the platform litter bins (ideal for New Street) come in 12. The oil drums (which incidentally are a close match to the Bachmann ones although these are a fraction shorter) also come in packs of 12 while the 2 different sized lineside relay boxes come in packs of 6 each.   None of the stuff I’ve had so far show any of the layering you sometimes see from a 3d print.

Another new (to me) product that I’ve come across recently is this…

Mr Surfacer liquid filler.  It seems to be something that the aero-modellers are familiar with as they use it to fill unwanted panel lines. It comes in several grades,  500, 1000, 1200 and 1500 and much like sandpapers the lower the number the coarser it is. The 1500 also comes in black and they can all be brought as a spray as well. They can be used as primers although I haven’t tried mine for that use yet.


3d Printing corner

Model Railway Scenes 

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

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.


Hoppers finished off and a few other things.

I’ve finished off the hoppers I was working on. Here’s the coke hopper in the company of the previous one I had already done. As the older one is an LMS version I revisited the weathering to make it look a little more used. The 13ton hopper Mackerel with a gannet and herring. A few I haven’t mentioned before. The M. E. Evans one is a Bachmann collectors club model in memory of Merl Evans. I spent a very enjoyable day at Tysley with Merl surveying a couple of class 150’s so this little wagon seemed a no brainer to me. Straight wheel and coupling swap with a bit of weathering.  The ED wagon is a Powsides kit for one of the Earl of Dudley’s fleet. Another no brainer.  Whether either wagon would have lasted to the late 50’s I dont know.

Finally I was directed to this neat little book. OK it’s not Birmingham and it’s not even West midlands but if you are, like me, a fan of what I call ‘urban grim’ (I guess most people aren’t here because they like pretty layouts) then you might find this right up your street. No text, just a lot of super atmospheric pictures.

Click here for the link

A little engineers train

I’ve always liked engineers trains (what do you mean, we know?) so a short one for Brettell Road was always going to be on the cards. I’ve shown you my build of a gannet before but now it’s painted.
Shown here with a Cambrian starfish ballast open.

From one of thier old kits to one of thier newest, the recently released herring ballast hopper. There were 2 very different designs of ballast hopper given the herring title. One of them was closely related to the mackerel and of the catfish ilk (walkway one end, single hand wheel).
The Cambrian kit is for the GWR design and it suffers from the same problem the gannet had, that being to discharge the ballast a track worker had to stand by the side of the wagon, right next to where the falling ballast is going to be. It’s a diminutive little wagon and features a one piece hopper and a one piece chassis, the latter being a big improvement on the catfish and dogfish kits. For such a small wagon there’s a lot of details to be added and the underside shows a nicely pleasing complicated look. Of course most people probably won’t notice so if you wanted a rake you could probably miss a lot of this stuff off but having said there nothing that’s really tricky if you take your time.
I swapped the buffer heads for MJT ones and drilling the shanks for these proved a bit tricky with the sides ending up really thin. I didn’t spring them (never do) but think the metal heads are a worthwhile improvement.
Some of the smaller parts had quite a bit of flash on them which was a bit of a surprise as most Cambrian kits I have built recently didn’t have any. That’s the only negative of what is a nice little kit.
I have a couple of Tunnys still to do and I might throw in a catfish too but that’s for another day.

Look mum, no glue!

Dear Customer (the letter reads). We are aware then many Falcon Brassworks kits have a reputation for being difficult to build or simply ‘aids to scratchbuilding’…
…If you feel this kit is not what you had expected or you are not confident about completing it please return it to us in its original condition and we will be happy to offer a full refund.

You cant say fairer than that really and given my liking of ballast wagons and the way I get a lot of enjoyment out of making things that are difficult I have been building the Falcon Brassworks Kit for the LMS 25T Ballast hopper or Gannet as they became under BR.

108 of these wagons were built to Diagram 1804 in 1932 by Metropolitan Cammell, and further wagons of the same design (with slight detail differences) were built by BR to lot 1/518 in 1949. Usually branded as Gannet under BR some were also branded Trout and they lasted till at least 1976. Apparently they were unpopular with workers as you basically had to stand next to the falling ballast to operate the handwheels.

Falcon Brassworks LMS 25T ballast hopper

The kit wasn’t too bad, some of the parts were not etched cleanly and there were no tabs to help with assembly but it all went together reasonably well. The W irons were replaced with Bill Bedford sprung ones and other parts such as handwheels, brake hangers and lever guides were replaced with better parts from other suppliers. The Brakes themselves had no detail on at all so these were given a bit of a work over with bits of brass.

Other than that quite an enjoyable little project. I don’t know if id want to do a rake of them and its worth pointing out that the clearances between the hopper doors and the wheels is very very small. Some modification would have to be done for EM and i’m not all that convinced it could actually be built in 00!

RJ Essery’s book on LMS wagons shows one in 1965 with a caption saying that it is in BR Livery. As the image is black and white i am guessing that means black but if anyone knows for sure I would be grateful to hear from you.

For some pictures of BR ones see http://paulbartlett.zenfolio.com/brgannet/h58ef291#h15e03d3e

A spot of reading

Been doing a spot of reading, one book not very Birmingham and one not very railway! The first, Life on the Lickey 1943-1986 by Pat Wallace appealed because i’ve always had a bit of a fascination with the place, particularly Blackwell, My great aunt lived there (still does) and many an hour was spent with my dad and brother on the old platform watching all manner of things cresting the top of the incline. Peaks and 50’s were always the favorite and Peaks in particular seemed little troubled by the long climb from Bromsgrove. Funnily I don’t recall seeing any banking as a kid but in later years we were treated to such delights as 3 class 60s on a steel train. The book covers Pat’s time working the Lickey from engine cleaner to driver including accounts on working the unique Big Bertha as well as in later days such shenanigans as starting a failed HST when the guard wasn’t quite ready and dumping the poor chap into the ballast. I was lucky enough to meet Pat last year at the launch of the book where he kindly signed me 2 copies (one for my great aunt). Sadly he passed away a short time after but thankfully his experiences live on in this fascinating insight to working this well known piece of railway
ISBN 978-1-85858-523-9 www.brewinbooks.com

The second book is Birmingham in the 70’s and 80’s by Alton Douglas and while there is some railway interest such as the derelict Snow Hill A Deltic at Bromford Bridge and a picture of 210002 working the Cross City Line, this book is very much about the city. The Street scenes are just pure nostalgia and these are intersected with newspaper adverts from the time. Ive written before that New Street has become less about the trains and more about the place as time goes on and this book fits in with that view perfectly
ISBN 978-1-85858-511-6 www.altondouglas.co.uk

Buffer stops

Despite Brettell Road being a fraction of the size of New Street it needs a lot more buffer stops. I’ve had my eye on the growing range from Lanarkshire Models for a while but up until now I’ve not had anything I can use them on.
I decided to go for the Midland type but with an LMS/BR one thrown in for a spot of variety. The kits cater for 00 or EM/P4 by the virtue of 2 different bufferbeams. There’s only 5 parts per kit and all are very cleanly cast with only a tiny bit of tidying up needed. You will need to add sleepers and chairs of your choice. I found for some reason my usual brand of superglue (zap with the pink label) didn’t want to grab the white metal so I soldered the sides and just glued the bufferbeams (with a piece of tracing paper sandwiched each side for insulation). You can judge the end results for yourself.

Lanarkshire Models growing range of buffer stops can be found here.

A spot of reading


Been doing a spot of shopping, first up are a couple of new(ish) books by Kevin Derrick and published buy Strathwood. I’ve always liked class 25s and 45s so the these books are right up my street. A4 hardbacks and full colour they are essentially picture books with a very brief intro. That’s fine with me as other books dealing with the technical sides of these locos are already out there and do we really need a repeat? Besides pictures appeal to my, ‘what does it look like, I don’t care how it does what it does’ approach to things.
What I like about these 2 books is that effort has been put in to showing different livery variations and in the case of the Peaks nameplates (including the painted ones). Add in there’s some nice New Street shots in both and I’m more than happy.
£19.99 each website

Sometimes an impulse buy can lead to a whole load of trouble. In this instance I’ve always liked Jintys and indeed I scratchbuilt a body for an n gauge one as a kid. It was a bit rubbish to be honest, ok a lot rubbish and the fact that it was scratchbuilt couldn’t save it from the bin! However the Great British Locomotives collection have just done one and for less than a tenner I couldn’t resist!

This is how it came out of the packet although I did reattach the bufferbeam so that it was straight. The magazine isn’t really one, more of a stand alone article but I was surprised that it’s quite well done with some good images and illustrations.
In the real world steam wasn’t allowed in New Street in my era so the above would never have happened but it’s good for a little flight of fantasy.
The problem is I’ve found myself looking at the Brassmasters detailing kit, as well as the High Level chassis kit. Also thoughts of a small diorama based on some sort of industrial setting and set at night (and in the rain). This is not a good thing!

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?

Time for my 2013 year review.

Well 2013 is nearly over and its time to look back on how much of my to do list got done.

To remind you all the to do list was as follows.

  • Finish my class 303, 310, 312 and 317 EMUs
  • Finish the platforms
  • At least get started on the Pallisades
  • build the next 2 boards
  • Make a start on drawing up my class 116 etches
  • Finish a half started rake of BBA and BAA’s
  • Start working on rakes of coaches.
  • Do more buses!
  • Add the wagon section to the site.

Starting from the top, the class 303, 310 and 312 havent been touched but the 317 is done. The platforms still aren’t finished but good progress has been made with board 3 all but done (just smaller details and people to add). While I have nothing to show for my Pallisades building a lot has been done behind the scenes with a collection of parts to be laser cut and window frames to be etched. No progress on baseboard to report but I have been drawing up my replacement sides for class 116 DMU’s. I havent looked at the BBA and BAA’s but I have done some wagons and started the wagon section.  No progress on buses to report either but there are a few more lorries and cars complete. I have been busy on coaches and although it’s a small dent in what I will need it is progress.  Overall then much better than last year in terms of sticking to the list!

As usual though I have been off topic somewhat with more class 50s, and 86’s rolling off the workbench as well as my class 100/105 hybrid.  On the shows front its been quiet but Moor Street has been to a few shows and put on its usual good performance.  Calcutta Sidings II debuted at Expo EM north and to be fair for a first show it was really rather good. Yes there were a few niggles but considering the size I think a very positive performance.

So into 2014

More of the same really. I want to get the things on the 2013 list moving along with a firm effort to get the shopping center done (I’m bored of the 3 boards I have been working on to be honest). Also I have an itching to get track building again so here goes…

  • Finish my class 303, 310, and 312
  • Finish the platforms
  • finish the Pallisades
  • build the next 2 boards (london end)
  • build the 2 none scenic boards that will attach the wolves end to the fiddleyard boards
  • Get building on my class 116 fleet
  • Finish a half started rake of BBA and BAA’s as well as one of my engineers trains
  • Keep working on rakes of coaches.
  • Do more buses!

Time will tell!

dmu blueprint

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…

New book on New Street

BNS-bookRecently released is this neat little book on the History of Birmingham New Street by Mark Norton and published through Amberly Publishing. Its 96 pages of a bit over a5 size and it pretty much all photographs. The book follows New Street’s evolution in chronological order ending with a short piece on what the current rebuild promises. Much of the content from the late 40’s until the mid 60’s was taken by the authors late Father and this is perhaps the most interesting part of the book. The periods either side having a very slight feeling of padding but to be fair, and certainly with regards to the 70’s onwards, this timeframe is my interest so the book provides little in the way of new material of info. (im sure im probably unique in finding it that way). Well worth the £14.99 asking price in my opinion.

ISBN 978-1-4456-1095-5


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.