Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Beetle van complete and lessons learned

Well, it's done and I don't think looks too bad.

The glazing was "interesting" in the way that trying to cut bits of plastic to fit slightly irregular resin holes can be. Fixed with Deluxe Materials Glue'n'Glaze, the lesson learned here is that a sharpened and slightly damp cocktail stick will remove excess glue, but you have to work at it.

I won't say this is the greatest model in the world, but I have finished it and along the way learned a bit.
  • Start with the best car body you can. This was OK, but the Revell original was better. Chopping the back off it and scratchbuilding the rest would have given a sharper result - if I could blend the parts, especially the roof and gutters.
  • Car paint is lovely, but too thick and you can't match it for touch-up. I should have used some nice enamel. I know you can squirt aerosol into the cap and apply it with a brush, but the paint is very thin and pain to use.
  • I should have scraped the side trim off and replaced it. The body has an odd mix of correctly raised trim and sunken stuff at the front. The bow pen I used to paint it didn't like that much. Another reason to use paint that can be touched up. 
  • Humbrol Clear is very good and easy to use.

However, I'm not unhappy with my model and I'll know better in the future.

Monday, May 25, 2020


The car spray paint is a bit thick, and far too shiny. I knew this, but always planned to tone it down a bit once the transfers (from ModelRailwayScenery) were fitted to the white area on the body.

Humbrol Clear is their take on the famous Clear floor polish from Johnson & Johnson. It's more expensive and a touch thicker, but still goes through the airbrush neat. It sprays well, not running or misbehaving in any way.

Still gloss, it's a lot less gloss than the car paint and looks nice in a car modeller sort of way. It didn't lift the metallic enamel lines, always a bit of a risk. Those things have given me enough grief already, still not perfect after several attempts, but now close enough I can live with them.

Inside, I've painted the dashboard with a close enamel match and the rest black. The seats have had their headrests removed and filled. The load area is blocked off with a wall. I know this wouldn't be there in real life, but you won't see it and it hides the gap around the inner wheel arch and outer ones which you could just see through the windows.

I can't work out if the axles should be very slightly longer. It's not much if they should. The Airfix "stock" wheels are slightly narrowers than the Revell custom ones, but not very much.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A perfect shop location?

Let's assume that one day things return to normal and model shops can re-open. I suspect there will have been a bit of a shakeup. Some people will have retired. Some won't have been able to take advantage of the mail-order boom during lockdown and run out of cash.

Others will be looking to grow, or maybe simply start from scratch.

The perceived wisdom is that model shops need to be on the high street, but that's going to be far too expensive. Rents are high and business rates aren't going to go down if the government is to pay off the biggest debt since WW2.

Allow me to suggest an alternative.

Around the country, there are mini-shopping precincts, like this on near me and two others within 10 minutes walk. Built at a time when little, local shops were very much a thing, most struggle to fill the units. Here we have a general store/newsagent, dry cleaner and that's about it.

Once upon a time, there was an excellent tropical fish shop and that's the model to follow. This sho was so good that people would happily travel to it. Closure only came about because the owners were made an offer they couldn't refuse, and decided working 7 days a week wasn't so appealing after many years.

But it would be perfect for a model shop. Out the front we have plenty of free parking. 2 minutes walk away, a bus stop. It's not hard to find. There would even be a little passing trade. Whitnash is a small town with a moderatly affluent population and I'm sure as high a percentage of modellers and crafters as anywhere else.

But who wants this shop unit? People go to supermarkets for the main food shop now. Specialist shops like butchers and bakers can't make this sort of place pay thanks to Tesco and co.

Obviously, you don't rely on people through the door - the shop would need a mail order side, but there is enough space for the shop staff to pack items as well as serve the customers. If either side becomes too busy, you take on more people. And maybe the unit next door.

Just a thought...

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Film Club - What happens on a model railway magazine photo shoot?

Have you ever wondered what happens during a model railway magazine photoshoot? 

No? Tough. That's the subject of this weeks' video which shows Andy York and myself (OK, mostly him) taking photos for the recent BRM feature on the Leamington & Warwick club layout Kimble

Friday, May 22, 2020

Lockdown Project: Windmill repair

Some jobs should be simple and turn out to be anything but. We have an ornamental windmill in the garden. I think it turned up last year. What I do know is the sails fell off. Somehow the nut holding them on vanished.

All I had to do was replace it surely?

Not a chance. Nothing in the garage would fit, and since this is over 100 feet away from the windmill, I got fed up walking back and forth. Taking the pivot off the front proved to be the first challenge, involving removing more wood and metal than expected. Never mind, it's only 4 cross-head screws.

This is the problem. No nut in my collection fits better - and that includes those rusty ones in Golden Flake tobacco tins. Those tins that just appear in garages and workshops. Well, the sort of garages and workshops I like.

Right, out with the big tap and die set. The nearest to the threads is a 1/8NPT27. I have no little what this means and it does seem to be an oddity in an otherwise metric set. I have a metric set because I have old VWs and if you find an imperial nut, it's wrong and you should throw it away.

Anyway, I ran it down the threads on the spinny bit. I don't care if it's wrong, I just want a matching nut and bolt. It ran down nicely though so can't be very far off. Next, I tapped the nut to match. This isn't pretty so I didn't take a photo. Not sure the Nylock insert will be much good now, but then this isn't exactly critical work.

A washer is a good idea, but of course, I can't find one with a big enough hole. I can find my old tapered reamer and this far it (I used to use it for model bearings so used the pointy end) is perfectly sharp enough to open up a hole in a nice big washer.

Someone will tell me holding the washer in mole grips is bad. It worked though.

Anyway, after all this and a few minutes work with sockets and screwdrivers, the windmill is repaired. The sails spin and it looks lovely again.

I'll probably find the lost nut now.