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Bit of a mixed bag

Bit of a mixed bag this post, starting with;

A kind gift.

My friend Tom contacted me to say he had an old Millholme models kit for an LMS 30t bogie bolster and did I want it?  Of course it would be rude not too!

The kit represents, as best as I can tell, a diagram 1682 45 ft bogie bolster. These were a continuation of a Midland design with the only obvious difference being that the earlier ones had handbrake wheels rather than compound levers. The sides and solebars were, nicely, cast in one piece and being as old kit the bufferbeam and ends where missing. The trussing was also cast in whitemetal and was somewhat optimistic as its a long piece in a not very strong and somewhat bendy material.

So to work I replaced all the trussing with 1mm L section brass from Eileens.  The brake lever castings were OK and they are both mounted at one end. It appears that only the bogie at this end is braked at all.

The bogies are ratio ones and I ditched the swivelling plate idea as supplied preferring to pack them out and mount them with a screw.  The bufferbeams were from my scrap kit parts box and the extra rivet detail from Archers transfers. The buffers were the ones supplied in the kit.

Lampost conundrum

My plan to extend Brettell Road includes completing the road currently on the left of the layout as well as adding a new road.  Digging around looking at local pictures in the late 50s the lamposts seem to be mostly the concrete cast type.  Theres a couple of options for these. Hornby Scaledale none working ones and woodland scenics working type.  I immediately discounted the latter as they are far too chunky and just look awful.

Not that the Hornby ones look any better.  Im not sure why they bothered to produce these as they are basically crude lumps of resin and they don’t even provide a foot for modellers to mount them.  The idea of fitting a surface mount LED and hiding the wires on the none viewing side went out of the window!  I must be able to do something better than this surely? Especially as, at most I will only need 5 of them.So with some K&S metal section (1.5mm square for the top and 2.4mm Hex for the main trunk I made this. The base was blended into the main columns and sprayed with Plasticote suede. I also very lighty dusted some grey primer and blank over it to give a more concretey colouring. Below is how it looks in position.

Baby Grampus

Flicking through Simon Bendall’s bookazine ‘Modelling British Railways – Engineers wagons’ I was taken by a wagon I’d not come across before. The GWR designed ling.  A 14 ton open wagon that looks like a baby grampus. In the bookazine, Hywel Thomas built one by cutting down a Chivers Tunney but I decided another route would be to stretch a Cambrian starfish instead. So 2 starfish kits were found and a lot of cutting ensued. The doors on a Ling are shorter than a Starfish so each door had a section cut from the middle with new strapping from microstrip. Buffers are from Lanarkshire models, W irons from Bill Bedford, door bangers and steps from Rumney Models and the test of the underframe from plastic section and the spares box.Above is the reason i referred to this wagon as a baby grampus.  Along side one it’s considerably smaller.  Comparisons between the shortened doors and the starfish originals can also be seen.

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.

Just a few pictures.

Just decided to do a few images, including a view of the canal which I’ve never gotten round to and a few experiments.

Back to Back scenes

Although no one has said anything I’ve never been that happy with the back scenes on Brettell Road. Back scenes are a bit of a quandary as you dont want them to be naff but then you dont really want the viewers of a layout to notice them either. They kind of need to be there but not there at the same time. Initially I used a combination of brush painting and car aerosols to do them but with hindsight and a sprinkling of self reflection I probably didn’t put in the time and effort I should have. Below is the first incarnation.

Above is my revised version.  I downloaded some textures from scalescenes and set to work on photoshop.  I could have rendered my own textures but given what scalescenes charge it really not worth anyones time to do this in my opinion.   Below are some more images before and after.  Below are a few images of hw it all looks in the intended light. 

Whats the opposite of green fingered?

After Scaleforum i became aware that the vegetation on Brettell Road probably was a bit to green and lush for a late October setting. To remind you roughly what it looked like back then here are a few images from earlier in the layout build.

Ok so it wasn’t exactly late spring or anything but armed with some scenic sheets from Martin Welberg and some more muted static grass from WWS supplies I set to work making it all look a bit more, well, dead! As you can see I’ve made he disused line look a lot more overgrown. The eagle eyed will spot a bit of extra iron work supporting the wall. I always intended to add this from the early days of the layout.  I’m happier with it now.

Back to the bridges

As mentioned in the last post, I did get the bridges in place for Scaleforum but they weren’t as bedded in as I would have liked. Well now, they are! Going right to left for a change, these are the bridges over the canal.Closer view of the main branchline bridge. one of the 2 bridges for the sidings (both are the same design)The overbridges at the left hand (or Stourbridge) end. another view of the same bridges. The final view along the alleyway.And a night-time view, after all that is the point of the layout!

the end of the green stuff

Well I’ve reached the end of adding green stuff to the layout with the slim strip of it at the front. There’s only really the bridges, some more road vehicles and some industrial clutter still to do on the scenic side now.This is the view of the Stourbridge end. there are 2 metal over bridges still to build for this end. a view from inside the yard showing the new retaining wall on the left. The Dudley end. there are 3 under bridges to build for this end. I decided to revisit an older picture i quite liked, well why not?

Light, dark and the bigger picture.

The last actual building for Brettell road is now finished which means I can now give you a reasonable overview of how the layout will look. There is still more to do and more clutter to add yet. I want to add a couple of cranes to this scene too.  Here’s how the area looks at night. The courtyard for the building shown last time and below at nightA couple of overviews from the left side …and from the right side.Probably should include a couple of trains really!


It’s all getting a bit grim!

pillarsI have added the pillars that support the disused warehouse as well as the lower floor. As its nigh on impossible to see I didnt go too mad on the detailing of the lower floor. The pillars are from Scale Link and because they were intended for a footbridge were too short for what I wanted. I looked a the 7mm scale ones but they were too big so in the end I just added bits of evergreen section to the tops and bottoms to get the height I needed. Below is a view along the canal taken with a mobile phone.dingy-canal

little-yardOn the other side of the canal I wanted a very basic goods yard. The sort of thing where a lorry could be backed up to a wagon and unloaded by hand, no need for cranes or coal staithes or any of the other stuff you usually see. I did settle for a weighbridge as the most minimum of facilities, the build of which was featured in an earlier post. The floor was more powered paint dusted on dry and a few minutes of ‘driving’ a Base toys lorry around soon added some interest to the floor before it was sealed with Klear. I then used Tamiya gloss varnish to create puddles and baking soda for the raindrops. The whole scene was sprayed with Halford’s gloss lacquer to make it all look wet and tie everything together. new-buildingIn front of this will be another largish building which is shown here in the early stages of construction.  I wanted to deliberately do things backwards as we human being aren’t actually very good at random things. We tend to see patterns easily and even if you have never studied art or illustration we have a natural bias towards well composed things. It would have made a better ‘picture’ if the building was behind the yard but in reality the railway is usually at the back of things not the front, It’s usually tucked away not the main feature.



One of those finished things posts.

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

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

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

More vehicles, greenery and a first for me.

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

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

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

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

Abandoned warehouse, nearly there!

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

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


Here comes the rain

Regular readers will be aware that I plan to model Brettell Road in the rain. While falling rain is not doable and if it was to scale wouldn’t be visible anyway I believe it’s worth trying to show the effects of rainfall. Of course it will be frozen in time but I don’t think there’s a lot I can do about that and I’d like to credit those who view the layout in the flesh with a degree of imagination.

Aside from things looking wet the other thing I wanted to try was raindrops in puddles and the canal.

The canal itself was done with multiple layers of varnish as per Gordon Gravetts book then the area where the bridges were masked and more varnish added (Humbrol clear) with baking soda sprinkled on while wet. I did try cold and warm varnish  to see if it made any difference but found it didn’t.

The above image shows the canal in position (again you will have to imagine the walls) and below in something approaching the light I plan the final project to have.

The image above shows progress on the embankment section. I can’t claim any expertise in modelling nature as it’s not something I’ve come across much before however a while spent looking at local plant life for the “what” and Gordon Gravetts book on the subject for the “how” has produced something I’m quite happy with although I am undecided if the nettles are a bit bright. I drew a quick fencemade from sleepers and Tim kindly laser cut it for me for the top of the bank. I guess it does mean that Brettell road will be set in early October mind you. If you haven’t got Gordon’s book yet then its well worth finding a copy.

I’ve made a start on some wagons. From the left are a Cambrian 5 plank open for which I found you need to remove a bit of material from the base of the w-irons for P4 wheels. Then there’s a Ratio Van and open (I’ve never built Ratio kits before) The open is really too old but I have a plan for an off scene steelworks (sort of Round Oaks ish ) so I will use this as an internal user. Followed next is a Parkside 7 plank open, simplicity itself and a Bachmann RTR van- this was supposed to be a quick win picked up from the bargain bin at Modellers Mecca but conversion to p4 was a bit more than just sticking wheels in with material needing to be removed and new brakes added from MJT. Right at the end is a Peco wonderful wagon tank. Quite advanced for their time with working buffers and springing. In reality the springing is a bit too hard to be of any real effect so I will fit some Bill Bedford sprung W-irons.

detailed GBL Jinty

Finally back to where it all started , the GBL Jinty. The body has been detailed with bits from the Brassmasters kit, some parts from Markits (and London Road Models as well as some home brew parts such as lamp irons from brass strip. I haven’t done any work under the footplate yet as I need to look at the High Level chassis next.

Tanks and Trucks

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

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

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