Monday, December 31, 2007


J50 on crossover
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
It’s the end of the year, just the time for a little rant I’ve had kicking around for some time. So sit back and let it wash over you…

In the picture you can see my J50 traversing the station crossover on Flockburgh. It’s a nice model that went together well but just occasionally we can have problems with the compensated chassis. Normally these are minor and happen at the start of the show when the locos have been sat in a box and bounced up the motorway for a few hours, got hot and cold and been generally unloved. A bit of running frees everything up normally.

Anyway, at a recent show the loco fell off on this bit of track. Since the only crowd was a single person who had already claimed to be a 3mm scale modeller I persevered with the loco knowing it would be OK in a few minutes. Of course it would pick this opportunity to take quite a few minutes to settle down so there were a few more niggles.

“Huh. I would just change the loco on my layout.” The audience said. Now I wasn’t at my best as operating a layout that is misbehaving (we had a sticky point motor at the time) annoys me so being lectured by someone whose total modelling abilities revolved around buying second hand Triang wasn’t going down well. Besides, since the models on Flockburgh are hand built I don’t yet have a huge stock of them to replace iffy ones with. It’s easy if you only have RTR, spare stock only damages your wallet, not eats your time.

Also what would be the point of swapping out a Triang Jinty ? They made them on a production line, if one works over a bit of track then they all will.

Anyway, he lectured me some more on other topics and I manfully resisted jabbing him with the sharp end of the doofer. Then he started to move off and noticed our request for suggestions for the content of our scenic extension board.

“Oh, I better help out with this”, he said.

“No, go away and look at another stand”, I thought.

After a few minutes consideration he came up with a blinder. We should have a lake.

Yes a lake. All of 10 scale feet from the sea, a lake.

Perhaps, I suggested, we were a bit close to the sea for a lake ?

“Oh is it supposed to be near the sea ?”, he asked looking a bit bewildered, “you should make it look like it is”

I explained I thought the giveaway was the beech and beech huts under his nose.

“Oh, I didn’t notice those” – what the hell had he been looking at for the last, what seemed like a week ? “What about some fishing nets or similar on the station ? “ Obviously I have failed to notice all those prototype pictures of station buildings covered in stuff from the back of a trawler. Silly me.

So, here’s some handy hints for visiting a show:
The people behind the layout really like to talk but don’t lecture us.
Please look at the model. We’ve spent a lot of time on it and it is what you paid to see.
If you notice something not fully in accord with the prototype, please do not tell us in a tone of voice you normally reserve for your lowest ranking servants.
Things go wrong sometimes. They do on your layout too. Live with it.
We are not getting paid to do this, we do it for fun.
We have a myriad array of sharp and hot tools to hand. Even if you have just made a purchase from the tool stall, you are out-gunned so behave yourself.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Clapperboard making

clapperboard making
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
At the other end of the layout to the new extensions, repairs are going well to the clapperboard building squashed at Sudbury.

A new end wall has been cut out of Daler board and then planked with strips of paper loped out of an envelope. Since this came as junk mail I think this is the most useful this piece of paper has been in its life ! No point in wasting some nice white, high-quality material though. Doing this is more eco-friendly than recycling.

At the bottom of the wall some plasticard represents the brick base. 4mm bricks are used because I’ve never seen a 3mm version. Nobody notices though so I won’t worry about it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mockup buildings

flockborough mockup
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
When I knocked up my Christmas building a few days ago, it wasn’t entirely plucked out of the air. I knew it would fit in on the layout because it wasn’t the first time I’d built it.

Mark 1 had been a somewhat simpler version though. It had no windows, doors or indeed any detail at all. Made out of cheap card it was just a mock-up to get the “feel” of the model. This sits alongside mock-ups of the warehouse and chapel on the new extension board.

I like mocking things up. It might look like an unnecessary step but most of the time it actually saves effort because you don’t put a load of effort into a model only to discover is somehow looks wrong. If you do then there is the dilemma – do I scrap the effort and start again or do I plough on regardless and hope things turn out OK. Most of the time it’s too painful to dump the part completed item which leaves a layout that you are dissatisfied with.

This time we learned just how much space you get in 3mm scale as opposed to 4mm. The assumption had been that the chapel would fill the space available. In fact I wasn’t sure that the little office wouldn’t do it on it’s own. With the mock-ups in place it became obvious that even this modest space would take more filling than originally thought. Behind the office there will be some open sheds (the round toped thing in the picture) with plenty of space to move a small lorry.

We also get a feel for what the layout will look like with it’s new extension. Ideally you need to leave it to sit and keep looking occasionally to see if the arrangement still satisfies. No time for this but I think we’ll be happy with the result.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Build the Flying Scotsman

Hachette Flying Scotsman
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.

Like many people I've picked up the first issue of the new partwork enabling you to build a 7mm scale Flying Scotsman. For 50p, how can I resist ?

and I've been doing my sums. Total cost of the partwork is £619.26 (124 issues at 4.99 and the 50p Part 1) which gets you a nice looking static model. If you want a motor, you have to pay a bit extra.

To buy the DJH kit complete with wheels but no motor from Tower Models is £584.30

Which means you are paying £34.96 for the instructions, DVD and other stuff.

My Dad is building the Bismark kit from the same source and the instructions for this are superb with proper photos for every step. This makes the partwork almost worth the money. If you are a beginner it makes it definitely worth the money. The kit is marked on Tower's web site as suitable for a beginner and since most of the bits are DJH quality pewter castings I suppose you can just glue them together. A quick look at the instructions for part one (The cab) shows this to be how they assume you will be building.

Watch the DVD that comes with the package and the whole thing looks even more interesting. It appears, although there is no mention of this, that the boiler and tender sides are pre-painted. Matching the green for cab sides & splashers would be “challenging” I suspect but not impossible if they’ve used a recognised brand. Transfers are promised for the lining and hopefully these would be bespoke.

The only criticism I have is that the DVD shows the cab being placed back to front when the builder puts it in place on the footplate, but that’s only the sort of “plonk the bits together” style fitting that every builder does, not a proper test fitting. Some attention to detail would have been good though.

On the plus side, by issue 5 you have a footplate, cab and mainframes so you’ve got a lot of loco very quickly.

So will I subscribe ? No. I don’t need or particularly want Flying Scotsman. If I’m going to spend that sort of cash on kits I have others I want to build. Of course if anyone wants to send the bits to me to build… Any takers ? :-)

Update: Well I bought part 2...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dockside office

Small dockside office
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I’ll be honest, Christmas is a nice but fairly quiet time in our household. It doesn’t really start until 10ish and winds down after lunch with no huge parties full of people stuffing their faces with food and drink.

So it was that rather than sitting around getting bored, I did some work with bits of cardboard. This little building is based on one seen in the distance in a photo of Gloucester Docks. The proportions are worked out from the picture, then I made a very rough mock-up which has been sat around for a few days.

So, after breakfast on the 25th, I had a bit of a dig around in my building bits box. This gave me windows and after making some slight tweaks to the proportions in light of these, I started cutting the walls from offcuts of Daler board. After the windows were glued in, sills and lintels were added from microstrip.

Other details is from various thinknesses of card and paper. Roof slates are paper. The chimney was a last minute addition when I realised that sat on the front in Scotland you’d want a bit of heating !

Total build time was 3-4 hours I suppose broken up into chunks and accompanied by various bits of telly. Lets be honest, most people watch that much on the goggle box, I just did it while building.

I think the result looks really nice. Once painted I hope it fits in on the layout.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Sails

Boxing Day Sailing
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
It’s the last day of my Christmas holiday and the weather is smashing. I could head off with the herd to the local shopping centre to find some “bargains”. I could head off to find some hooray Henries sitting astride horses and looking for foxes to kill (sorry, trails to chase not foxes for legal reasons). Instead I headed off to the boating pond with my Dad to sail for an hour or so.

The water was perfectly flat, the sun shone and there was only the merest hint of a breeze. Puffin was soon on the water, followed by Pigeon Pie once I diagnosed an iffy switch on the transmitter causeing a lack of signal. For future reference, if this happens, try all the switches including the stick reversers as this time one had been knocked to a mid-position.

We sailed for about an hour and a half. Longer than planned but some people came up from the nearby holiday cottage and provided an inquisitive audience. It’s a simple transaction, they ask sensible questions and say nice things about the boats, we answer them properly and keep sailing to provide entertainment. Everyone is happy.

Well, I wouldn’t have found anyhting to fit me in the sales anyway…

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Cracker bike kit
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Someone up there reads my blog. Inside today’s festive cracker I got a plastic kit - my Christmas is made !

With only a few moments application I can be the proud owner of a multi-coloured BMX style bike. Mind you that hat was flimsy and the joke terrible but then you can’t have everything.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dull blade

Dull blade
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Here’s a rare sight, a used scalpel blade. It’s not rare because I don’t wear them out, it’s rare because I never seem to get around to changing them as often as I should.

It’s not like I throw them away either – the blade migrates from my cutting scalpel to one of my poking and spreading knives. The have the dull blades because even when the cutting edge has gone they are good for applying small amounts of filler or scoring surfaces. The cutting knife is a Swan Morton retractable handle, the others are Number 3’s.

My parsimony with new blades isn’t a financial thing – they are cheap enough and I always have plenty of spares. It’s just that a bit of me thinks the current blade is fine. I forget just how much better the new edge will be. For some jobs, such as card modelling, a new blade before starting is a no-brainer but otherwise; well, it still works so we carry on.

So, here’s a handy hint. Treat your modelling knife to a new blade today. It will think it’s Christmas…

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Building repairs

endless building
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
With that special Christmas time on my hands (shopping done, no desire at all to go and stand in mad crowds of people desperately looking for that last item) I’m catching up on some layout maintenance.

Last time Flockburgh was out I dropped a board face down during the packing up. Most of the damage was quickly repaired but the little clapperboard building at the front of the board bore the brunt and needs restoration.

I’m not going to try and fix the model by bending it back to shape. That’s not going to work no matter how temptingly easy it might appear. No, I’ll take a cue from the classic car world and cut out the damage, to be replaced with new material.

So, sharp new blade in scalpel, I chopped the end wall off as cleanly as I could. It looks like the roof can be saved so there’s just one new bit to make. I’ve cut along the original joins and since I made the model in the first place, all I need to do is make this bit of it again…

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cracker junk

Cracker junk
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I do wonder why people bother sometimes. The photo shows a “gift” that fell out of a Christmas cracker at my works lunch. In case you can’t tell it’s a little model of a cherub playing the symbols.

Now you are probably thinking it’s just another bit of junk that comes out of a cracker. Why is it making an appearance here ?

Well, it annoys me. We are always encouraged to avoid creating waste but this is nothing but waste. It’s got no useful purpose. It’s not part of a set you can collect. It’s not even very good – what are you supposed to do apart from throwing it away ?

Someone, somewhere has spent money making a master and then tooling up a machine to produce these. In a meeting, a businessman has made a decision that what the world needs is more badly moulded green cherubs playing cymbals. A whole lot of effort, a reasonable amount of money and quite a bit of skill has been expended to bring this idea to fruition.

Why ?

Just imaging being asked one day to make the master for this. You’ve spent years honing your skills and this is what you get to do. I suppose the only consolation is that, judging by the amount of flash indicating mould wear, you’ve mastered something that will be produced by the million.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cracker novelty, probably more than I should. There are many in my spares box. Sometimes they give up useful mouldings for all sorts of jobs. At least one boat I’ve built has a dog that started off as a translucent pink bit of plastic and with a bit of paint turning into a very presentable model.

I love puzzles and things to be fiddled with – it makes my crimbo if I get a little kit to build at lunch. What a pity then to find that you can still get goodies that everyone loses interest in before they hit the table.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sticking plastic

sticking plastic
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
It doesn’t matter what we make buildings out of; there is always a stage where plasticard has to be stuck on the surface. Although not an exciting part of the job it’s vital to do it properly.

Years ago the glue of choice for this task was a Dunlop contact adhesive sold in a yellow bottle. You smeared glue on the wall and plastic, left it to go clear and then pushed the two together. The grab was instant and after a while the adhesion was great. Model buildings 20 years old still look fine having been done this way.

Unfortunately the glue was made up from chemicals extracted from hens teeth and rocking horse droppings making it particularly hard to get hold of. I think in 2 and a half decades we managed to get two bottles.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I have tried other glues. It’s important not to use a solvent based product or it will eventually attack the styrene. So I tried “Liquid Nails”, a builders glue with fine sticking properties. This works but isn’t the easiest substance to smear thinly – builders like to gob the stuff on but modellers need a more controlled approach.

Now we are trying Bostick Solvent Free glue. It comes in tubes and is reasonably easy to get. Unlike Liquid Nails its runny enough to smear and there is no stringing like UHU or Evo-Stick. Only time will tell if it stays sticky for a couple of decades but the results so far are promising.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fire stopper

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Just in time to be a nice surprise for Crimbo, I’ve been published again in the ever excellent Volkswagen Camper & Commercial magazine.

This time you can read about a 2 quid fix I picked to help prevent engine fires in Type 2 vans. Mind you, since I picked it up from the mailing list I suppose the fee had better go in that direction.

Still, if it helps stop a single engine fire (especially mine !) then it will be well worth it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wooden quay

quay bottom
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Once the cardboard promenade has been hacked around enough to satisfy us, it is replaced with a plywood version. I’m not going to claim credit for this, as my Dad’s the woodworker. He tells me that forming the curve around the end was a nightmare because for some reason none of the normally reliable glues would work.

Once the join in the curved end is sanded and the whole lot covered in stone effect plasticard this is going to look nice. With the pain of construction forgotten we’ll be glad we went for the realistic rounded end to the quay and not an easier to build square version.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
We’ve always been a big fan of mock-ups. A few hours with bits of cardboard can save may more spent finishing a model building and feeling the realisation dawn that “something” isn’t quite right about it. No matter how much detail you chuck at something, if the basic proportions are wrong then the model will look odd.

This mock-up is bigger than most, it’s the new promenade and quayside for Flockburgh. Our plan is to extend the current prom, taking it around in a curve to form a protective wall for a small harbour. On the curved end there will be a small lighthouse - the sort that marks an entrance rather than warns of rocks.

Further along the quay, behind the buffers, will be a chapel and then the end of a warehouse.

Getting the prom right wasn’t to bad. We scribbled on the baseboard quite a bit and then chopped the Daler board test piece around. Now we’re happy, my Dad is off to start work in plywood.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


1361 cylinders
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
It’s time to stop building new stuff for the 1361 locomotive and start facing the bits I bought. For the chassis, this means cylinders as everything else goes in the bin.

I’m not sure how these were made originally but what I had after carefully removing them from the old chassis (read: waggling the parts until the glue broke) were whitemetal cylinders with slide bars apparently moulded in and then attached to a metal support bracket. Running in this is a whitemetal crosshead attached to a whitemetal & brass coupling rod. As bought the brackets stuck a long way outside the footplate.

While not a fan of soft metal crossheads, they did work well and looked quite nice so I’ve hung on to them. Originally bolted together, the components are now soldered. The bolt just attaches the coupling rod.

The cylinders were cleaned up which made the brackets fall off, as they were just glued on albeit with loads of old, hard, difficult to remove, glue. The slide bars seemed to vary in length very slightly and were all longer than those found on the prototype. This is (probably) to compensate for a non-scale crank throw so I left well alone.

On one side I simply soldered the casting to the chassis with low-melt and then moved them around until things looked right. Then tested the chassis with the body and moved the cylinder until it looked right and didn’t get in the way. A simple coupling rod was made from rail filed flat on the face. Everything worked and there seemed to be plenty of clearance.

Over at the other side the clearance disappeared. I’m not sure why, but fixed it by building up the missing metal with low melt solder. Not sophisticated but in this case, effective. The result is hidden under the footplate anyway. I did made sure that the cylinders were in about the same position on each side of the model and were level so the front on view looked OK.

The final job was to put a grove in the moulded valance under the footplate to let the body sit down on the motion brackets. A junior hacksaw did the job giving a 1mm wide slot which give enough space for the bracket and allows for my lack of precision in the work.

I’m quite chuffed with the end result. I’ve built a compensated chassis with waggly bits that don’t stick out the side of the body. Everything runs without jamming up solid too, apart from when one of the crank pins unscrewed itself but we won’t mention that. All I need to do is fit some pickups and brake gear then move on to the pretty bits.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Olfa Plastic Cutter

olfa cutter
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Having mentioned this tool a couple of times, I’ve been asked what it actually is.

That’s it in the photograph. Tools like this used to be known as “scrawkers” for some reason. They also used to be hand made by people using left over hacksaw blades and bench grinders. I only have junior hacksaw blades, which are too small, and an angle grinder, which would do the job but I’d probably lose a limb in the process.

My tool came from Squires. Part number CKP450. Current cost £5.99. Spare blades available for £2.99 for five – I’m still on my first one though.

In use the tool is held parallel to the material being attacked. You drag the blade backwards along the sheet and a sliver is removed. The effect is different from a knife cut because the later doesn’t remove material. On plastic you get quite a nice styrene spring shape of waste which I’m sure must be useful for something…

To cut plasticard, make the groove with a couple of passes and then snap the sheet. You can do this with a knife as well if you prefer. I reserve the cutter for scribing plastic which it’s much better at than any other tool.

It also helps with metal. Here I do use it to scribe a line and then snap the sheet. I’ve never found a better way of cutting straight lines in sheet nickel silver or brass. For the kitbuilder it’s a good way of improving relieving lines on the back of bends if they aren’t etched deep enough.

All in all, a very useful tool. Until I bought one I didn’t realise just how useful but now I wouldn’t be without it – hence it’s position in a drawer within arms reach of the workbench.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nice slabs

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Sometimes you’ve got to marvel at the quality of work some people manage for the most mundane of projects.

The paving slabs on our club O gauge layout are hand scribed in plasticard. Not that tough you may think but them the platform is 5 feet long. And there are no mistakes, no slips or bits where the scribing of the short lines got out of sync.

The lines were made with an Olfa plasticard cutter which gives an excellent result. A bit of filling and finishing will be needed but I’m told the finished product will be painted by our show in January next year.

Lets’ be honest, the best this modeller can hope for is that his work is so good that no one notices it. Paving is the sort of thing that lives in the background and you’ll only notice when it’s not right. However the picture that is a model railway is a sum of it’s parts and this part is really nice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
All this work on the chassis will be to no avail if I can’t solve one little problem. The motor won’t go in the body. Hmmm.

Hopefully (I haven’t done it yet) all I’ll need to do is remove these lugs. I think they are meant to allow you to mount the motor horizontally. Can’t work out why you’d want to do this though as the gearbox is taller than the motor in the vertical configuration so there’s not height benefit.

Anyway, out with the piercing saw…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Butt hinge

Butt hinge
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Not one new project, but two for me at the moment. The other job I have in hand is to get Flockburgh’s scenic extension into an exhibitable state.

The extension is an 18 inch long board. Despite it having no track it’s being attached in the same way we’ve attached baseboards to each other for nearly 20 year. Loose pin hinges.

The method is simple enough, clamp the boards together and screw a hinge on the front and back. To separate the boards, just pull the pin out. This method is easier than using bolts – you don’t have to crawl under the board to fit them or do them up at a show.

Even in 14.2 the hinge is good enough to sort out all the track alignment which is good news to someone who started his modelling career helping with layouts where 10 minutes alignment at every joint was common. All that baseboard hitting and bolt fiddling is in the past.

The hinges are available from all DIY stores, no need to visit a specialist supplier either.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What a difference new wheels make

1361 chassis
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.

Time to get back to an old projects. The 1361 class has been sitting in a box for over a month and I really want to get it finished. New readers can read about the fun & games to date in the archive.

When I left the model the big problem was with the wheels. Lack of anything suitably round to go under the footplate had slowed the project so much I had to move onto other things. However, I did manage to get two set of wheels to go in the box and so I started by removing the dogy K's originals and replacing them with a nice shiny set of Romfords.

What a difference ! Straight away all the effort jigging the chassis paid off. The wheels roate in both directions smoothly at all controller settings. Assuming I can cram this lot into the body, I will end up with a very nice little loco.

You can even watch the chassis work on YouTube.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Paint your wagon

3mm painted wagon
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
There’s not much easier to paint than a 16 ton mineral wagon. Black underframe, pale grey body. The only tough thing is a the end door stripe and I put this on with a bow pen. Just the job for a simple practise task.

Numbers are just blobs of paint when I do them in this and 4mm scale. I know I should use transfers but hate them enough on locos so wagons aren’t going to get a look in. Besides, once weathered I don’t think anyone really notices, or at least they are too polite to say if they do !

I tested the wagon on the layout again and disaster* struck. It kept falling off on the crossover. A quick check showed that somehow the whole model had twisted leaving one corner a millimetre or so off the rail. In 14.2, this matters. I suspect that the solvent used to assemble the body had set hard and pulled all the sides in a bit, and a bit more on one corner. Normally if you spot this early, twisting the ends in opposite directions sorts things out. I should have paid attention.

In desperation I slid a sharp blade under the offending corners and levered the solebar off the floor. When happy I ran some solvent along the join hoping to fix it where I wanted. This took a couple of goes but all seems well now.

*When I say “disaster” I realise this is in the context of making a toy train so it’s not important at all really.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hospital Tramways and Railways

While at Warley last weekend I had the latest copy of "Hospital Tramways and Railways " by David Voice thrust under my nose. This is the third edition which has features many extra lines including the military camp on the Isle of Man. I must admit that I was sorely tempted to update my first edition to this latest hardback version.

Of course the best bit is the photo of my model of the Hellingly Hospital Railway in the appropriate section.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Body built

3mm wagon
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Aren’t modern Parkside kits wonderful ? By modern I think I mean anything released in the last 5 year – the older ones were good but the latest ones are amazing. The good news for a 3mm modeller is that the Society sponsored kits are all the latest style.

Which is why after a couple of hours lazy work my chassis is now looking much more like a wagon. I’ve even managed to fit couplings. Nothing clever here other than the brake gear. I put a cross shaft in from V hanger to V hanger. Then the brakes were cut in the middle so the operating links clipped either side of the cross shaft. Much easier than drilling a hole or just putting the shaft between the brakes.

I want to model this wagon empty as all the others are running full. To get the weight required for decent running I’ve made a lead floor. Once painted and with coal residue in the bottom I’m hoping this won’t be too obvious but we’ll see when I get it done.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hard work

3mm chassis
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I have it on good authority that the sign of a successful demonstration at a model railway show, is that you’ve not built anything. On the basis of this, my efforts at Warley this weekend were very successful indeed.

By the end of the first day I have taken a wagon kit out of the box, put it on my modelling board and dug out some pinpoint bearings.

Day 2 saw the bearings fitted and then the solebars were glued to the floor.

And that’s it. A triumph I think you’ll agree.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Manchester Workboat

Manchester Workboat
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I've just returned from a couple of days in rainy Manchester, hence my lack of posts.

However, I return bearing a nice picture of a genuine workboat in the Manchester docks. Boat modellers will notice that the paintwork si beast described as "worn". The handrails aren't exactly straight either - it's a pity that that never looks right when you model it...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Warley Demo day 2

Tim's layout
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Wow – a busy Sunday !

As I’ve commented before, Sunday’s are traditionally quieter than Saturdays at any show. People hoping to bargain hunt obviously want to be in the door as early as possible to make the best of any opportunities, while others just want to have the maximum chance to wander around. In the case of the NEC, public transport is better on the first day of the show so that rarest of beast, the railway modeller who actually gets on a train will need be present in much lower numbers on Sunday.

This year things seemed different. Thanks to the bigger new hall we were in, wide aisles were the order of the day. Last year the only way to breathe was to get behind a layout. This Saturday getting around the hall was easy. Sunday I struggled in several places – not badly but enough to make me think there were more people around.

As yesterday, chatting was pretty constant between 10 and 4. Our visitors were pretty varied too (hello if I mean you !) with Canadians, Irish and Swiss appearing to ask questions. In turn we quizzed them about the hobby in their countries.

We’ve helped with a work of fiction too – an author of children’s books (sorry, not names due to rubbish memory, but even if I hadn’t forgotten, this is like a confessional, everything is in confidence. Sort of.) plans to include a character who is a railway modeller and stopped for a chat to see if we could explain what makes us tick. Not sure if we helped much but we did our best. It was a nice break from explaining what Daler board is anyway…

That’s the second best thing about being a demo stand. You never know who will turn up next and what they want to know. Some ask a question and then proceed to tell you the answer. This is especially amusing if we know you are wrong or have plainly never done what you claim, and yes we do laugh about this afterwards. Most ask or comment on what we have on the table and off we go on another conversation that probably digresses quickly from the original point.

Some need a specific thing explained, others have a much more general need for information. “How do I start” give plenty of scope, “What sort of coupling should I use for 009 models” doesn’t. The later stumped me a bit as I’ve never actually built a 009 model but after a bit of digging it seemed that the modeller wasn’t setting up the Bemo’s that were giving him grief constantly. A quick explanation of my Spratt & Winkle setting up track and he went away vowing to build something similar. I hope he does and that it gives the desired results. Getting coupling working properly is a job easily overlooked but one that will pay dividends far in excess of the work required.

One lesson learned is: Go to the cashpoint before the show. I forgot and so the trade didn’t benefit from my visit as much as I might have liked. There is a money machine in the NEC and it has a permanent queue of 50 in front of it, or so it appeared anyway. I still managed to come back with a couple of kits for Russian locos (I know, I don’t need them, but then what has that got to do with it) and some card Manx wagons.

The best thing about being a demo is that you have little to pack away and so you get out of the hall quickly. We packed out entire stand in one of my Mum’s scuba diving bags, which wheeled in and out on a little trolley. No need to get the car in the hall for us which meant we were home an hour after it shut.

So, a good weekend. Thanks are due to the Warley Model Railway Club and especially Paul Jones and Nick Tilson who organise the event and demo stands respectively. Also, the slightly camp bloke in charge of the exhibitor catering and the two NEC car park stewards who astounded us by being helpful and giving the right directions. Thanks also to Jackie from the Larger Scale Model Railway Society who provided the required banter for the whole weekend from the stand next to us.

And the award for “Phil’s Layout of the Show”, that prized trophy (Ok, mention on the Blog) for the layout I’d most like to have built ? Tim Watson’s model on the L&WMRS stand. It’s a really lovely little model with detail and operational interest. Bets of all, it was tiny and hopefully has persuaded a few people that they can find space to build a model and they can actually finish one. And that is what we are there for.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Warley Demo day 1

Warley Demo
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
What a busy day !

The first people arrived on the stand about 10am and there wasn’t a time when someone wasn’t in front until 4pm. Considering all we are doing is a demo, that’s pretty amazing. What’s more every demo stand had the same problem ! Thanks goodness there were two of us so we could take turns, although sometimes we both ended up working at the same time.

This is excellent news. It means that there are lots of people out there who want to make things. I know I spoke to at least half a dozen who were coming back in to the hobby after being away. They wanted to know how to get started again and had loads of basic questions which we did our best to answer.

Some definitely went away inspired. Several went away in the direction of trade stands to hand over money.

Actually, I ought to say welcome if you are a new reader of this blog having picked up one of my cards. Please have a good read through the archives, dig around the rest of the site and then let me know what you think. Comments, good and bad are always welcome.

Anyway, the show is a good ‘un. My favourite layout (I think, didn’t really get that much of a look around) is a Dutch model of a dock in O gauge. The quality of the work is fantastic and the boat on the front is really impressive. In fact there were several good looking boats on layouts this year. Perhaps people have finally caught on to what we’ve been doing for the last few years !

Trade was nice too. I have personally saved well over a thousand pounds by not buying everything I wanted. A couple of Isle of Man locos in G gauge, 3 ½ inch coaches to go with the Hornby Rocket, loads of Triang Battlespace and a good few kits have not come home with me tonight. Who knows, if I resist tomorrow I will have saved the money two days on the trot !

Friday, November 30, 2007

Class 14 diesel

Finished 14
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
By the skin of its teeth, the Class 14 has made it to Warley. Yesterday I received the final parts, some lozenge shaped items for the top of the long bonnet. A bit of an experiment ensued – how many coats of paint can I apply in two hours and are they enough to cover the whitemetal.

Luckily the answers were 3 and yes. After a quick shot of matt varnish you couldn’t tell that they hadn’t been on there when I first painted the model.

Coupling are Romford screws – with everything behind the buffer beam chopped off otherwise the chassis won’t go in. Buffers are Gibson – soon they will get oval heads but they weren’t available at the time. Unless you know they look OK though.

The locomotive was delivered to Trevor this afternoon during the set up session at the NEC and he is very pleased with it. Go along to the show and have a look, then let me know what you think.

As an aside, this is the 500th post on the blog. I’m a bit chuffed with this – the current rate of posting is about 250 entries a year, which is higher than a lot. My Flickr account, which hold the photos used is pretty full as well. I suppose I ought to try and say something profound but that would just be rubbish or turn into a rant and I have at least one of those lined up for the future anyway.

Apart from the fun of writing this stuff, now I have enough of an archive it’s fun to take a look back and see what I was doing a year ago. Time certainly flies when you are having fun and I’m amazed to see that this time 2006 I was fixing my campervan, especially as I’ve just got it back from having the front beam replaced. Some things never change !

So here’s to another 500 with all the burnt fingers and pointless frustration that will occur getting there.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Out of the box

02 in the boxfile
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
This weekend I’ll be spending my time sat behind a demonstrating table at the Warley Model Railway show held at the NEC.

Our stand will be called “Stepping beyond the Train Set”. The idea is to help people playing with trains make the difficult step from simply buying stuff and running it, to actually modelling. In other words encouraging visitors to get their hands dirty making stuff.

Obviously we can’t take one of the big layouts but the Melbridge Box Company will do the job rather nicely. It contains a microcosm of all the elements you can aspire to – trackbuilding, scenics, scratchbuilding structures, detailing, weathering and more.

I’ll be building wagon kits to pass the time between visitors and my Dad will be assembling Superquick buildings. None of this will be desperately finescale but that’s the point. If you want to work to the highest standards then there are other people who can help you. What you need is to take that first step, and we want to be there to hold your hand.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Questions, questions

Christopher asked a few questions about the Class 14 diesel:

Was there much preparation needed on the body before putting on the primer/undercoat?
No. All I did was scrub the model down with Shiny Sinks cleaner followed by a wash in washing up liquid and lots of rinsing in cold water to get any residue of the cleaner off. Then it was dried off with a hair dryer.

(White or grey? Acrylic or cellulose?)
Eastwood self etching primer from Frosts. Available in grey, but quite a pale grey. The yellow paint covered nicely over it in a couple of coats. I think you should get about 15 models out of a can of primer easily enough. Double that if you only dust it on like proper modellers do.

Whose green and yellow paints did you use? Railmatch?
Both greens are Railmatch paints which sprayed very nicely. All other colours from the Humbrol enamel range as I find they brush so well even when past their best. Humbrol satin varnish finished the job.

How about the transfers?
Numbers from Fox. Crests from the depths of my transfers folder. All waterslide.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Loads of paint

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Where to start ? A bit of a hectic day.

First, the dark green paint was sprayed. This was left to harden for a couple of hours before the black bits were hand painted from a slightly suspect Humbrol tin. Then yellow buffer beams were given a second coat. Next the white handrails went on with a white/147 mix. Finally the silver window frames. A bit of touching up with greens and the job looked good.

Transfers were the usual fiddly pain to apply with lots of prodding with a fine, wet paint brush to get the numbers something like in line with each other.

Next the wasp stripe nose doors which had been painted separately were glued in place. I was ever so glad these could be done in the flat as painting hazard stripes is no fun at the best of times. Transfers would be best for this job but I didn’t have any in 4mm scale to hand.

Finally the whole model was sprayed with satin varnish. This brought all the colours together and made the dark green come alive.

Actually, now I write it down this doesn’t seem like much work but it certainly seemed like a lot of effort at the time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Putting on a mask

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
How long does paint need to harden before you can stick tape to it and be confident that you aren’t going to peel it off ?

In this case, about 12 hours. Normally I’d prefer 24 but that’s not an option with this deadline. Besides, I've taken a day off work to do this and a couple of other things and I didn’t want to waste it waiting for enamel to dry.

Working out what colour goes where is a bit of a game. The change on these locomotives between light and dark green varies. My prototype is the one on the front cover of my OPC book. Partly because it’s one of the few colour pictures I have and mostly because it’s the easiest one to mask up. Many locos had the light green on the cab front and getting a good tight line would be tough.

As it was the hard lines were masked using the relatively expensive Tamya tape and then filled in with the cheaper stuff. I pushed this lot down as hard as dare. The cab handrails got in the way a bit but some careful cutting of thin strips seemed to work.

Removing the masking is always a bit of a heart in mouth moment but this time I got away with it. The sides of the cab remain Sherwood Green with a nice clean break into the darker BR loco green.

Now I just have to wait for the main colour to dry a bit so I can touch in the little bits by hand.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sticky stuff

Short bonnet
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Glue is good. I know lots of modellers hate the stuff but for some jobs I can’t think of anything better.

The Class 14 diesel is covered with overlays. There are two layers of bonnet side doors, tops for the side boxes, grilles and other bits of metal to be added. I know this can be done with solder, I’ve done it myself in the past, but it’s a pain and today I wanted an easy life.

One of the reasons glue isn’t popular with “proper” modellers is that they don’t think it will last. My experience is that you get over 10 years if you use a decent modelling glue and not some cheap stuff from a market. Whitemetal models I’ve built using it have lasted and not returned to kit form so it’s not unreasonable to expect the same performance for the bits on this kit.

Another advantage is that if something comes off, it comes off whole rather than bent. A dab of glue and it goes back on just as quickly, often without needing a re-paint.

My preferred glue for this job is Zap-a-Gap green superglue. It comes in a nice big controllable bottle and takes a few seconds to grab allowing for a little repositioning. For the really fiddly bits, the glue is put on a bit of scrap plastic and applied with a pin. The pool stays liquid for a few minutes and the pin lets me put tiny amounts on, or run the stuff between laminations using capillary action.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Soldering on

14 soldered
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I’ve been busy today. The whole afternoon has been devoted to getting the Class 14 a lot closer to being finished than it was. Solder fumes have filled the air (I have a desk fan to blow them away from my nose as they can’t be good for me) and fingers have been singed. I think though, that I have finished soldering on the body.

Tough bits ? Well the cab floor should go in at an earlier stage than I did it – a bit of work with a piercing saw got me out of the hole but not being in it would have been better. The ends are fun – guess who didn’t really leave enough space behind the handrails on the front.

Both high and low melt solder were used but mostly with a normal iron. If you are quick enough and the castings are chunky enough this isn’t a problem. Just don’t hang about.

Apart from that it all went well. The model seems a bit blank still but that’s because I plan to glue most of the overlays on. That’s tomorrow’s job.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Class 14 handrails
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Head scratching time. The handrails on a Class 14 diesel are weird. Basically they are a flat strip that runs around the edge of the bonnet. Quite why the ex-GWR workshop went for these I don’t know, but it’s bad news for modellers. We know how to do conventional rails, how are these supposed to work ?

In the 7mm scale version of the kit, builders fit short handrail knobs and then solder the flat strip provided to the tops. With a bit of excess solder you won’t spot the subdefuge.

In 4mm this won’t work as the supports will be too think. After a little discussion the plan was to drill holes in the strip. Short lengths of wire are then soldered in and the result clipped in place through the suppled holes in the bonnets.

That’s what I did for the short end. Blimey that nickel silver is hard. I chewed through several drill bits and even when I finished there was a problem with the holes lining up.

For the long end I tried something that shouldn’t work. The short lengths of wire were soldered to the bonnet. Then, using a ruler as a thickness guide, they were all snipped to the same length. Finally the strip was soldered to the ends of the wire.

I suspect this works because I was quick with the iron and the solder stick strip to wire before the solder holding the wire to the bonnet had time to heat up and melt.

The results from both methods are suprisingly strong. I filed things clean without any breakage. In future I’ll use the second method but if you were better at measuring and drilling than I am, the first will work OK.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Brass in Bonnet

Bonneted 14
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
The solution to over-hard metal is to use something softer and that’s what’s happened. A set of brass bonnets have been supplied – pre-bent to help me out even more. I quickly attached them to the loco and added the boxes on the side making sure that they didn’t stick over the side.

One feature of the kit is a whole host of overlays. I think I’ll be sticking these on with glue as it’s easier and quicker that solder. Once painted no-one will know. There is a bit more soldering to do, cab steps and handrails once I’ve worked out how the later work.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bending bonnets

bent bonnet
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Normally I prefer etched kits to be produced in nickel silver. It solders well and is generally pleasant to use.

However it’s a hard metal and that caused me major grief when I tried to bend the bonnets. My first attempt resulted in breaks along the fold lines even though I’d deepened the relieving lines on the back. If I’d got things right straight away I might have got away with it but not this time.

The longer bonnet was annealed before bending but even this didn’t help much. Getting the bend in the right place proved impossible. At the front the large hole for the fan doesn’t help.

I rang Trevor to get spare etches and discuss the problem. When I built the early brass version of this model I didn’t recall any problems, but then this is a softer and less brittle metal.

His solution – a set of brass bonnets will be produced and supplied. The purchaser then has the choice of materials to play with. A proper pragmatic solution, which justifies the effort of building the test, etches.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Early days of a new project

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
For what seems like months but may be over a year, we’ve been planning to extend Flockburgh with a short scenic board. The woodwork has been around for ages but this week, a start has been made.

First job (for my Dad, not me. Some of us have to go to work) was to dismantle the board and rebuild it with a big step for a harbour entrance. We think this now has the right proportions. All it needs is some scenery – a nice little Christmas project I think…

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stepping up

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
You have to marvel at the kit designers art sometimes. The steps for the Class 14 are a case in point. They are a real bit of nickel silver origami. I can’t even begin to describe what you get from a flat sheet of metal, suffice to say that only the upper treads had to be soldered on, everything else was formed by bending.

Once you get your head around it, the job is easy with small flat-ended pliers. I could use the “Hold’n’fold” but it’s overkill for a little job like this. Amazingly the Stanley pliers I use came from a pound shop – useful tools don’t have to be expensive.

OK, so the treads are fiddly. Lots of flux and a small amount of solder are the order of the day ‘cos cleaning an excess off will be difficult. With 3 per corner and four corners to do, practise does make perfect.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Plastic washers

Class 14 wheel
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Bit of a handy hint here: If you want to check things on a chassis that uses Romford crank pins, don’t solder the washers on, use bits of cable insulation. That way you can remove the rods easily during the fettling stage.

I had to force these bits down some tweezers (the tapered bit) to expand them a little but after this they slipped on and hold well.

The chassis can now be run under power to see where the tight bits are. A little reaming of the bearings freed everything up. Those frames are very tight on the back of the wheels though at 12mm apart (measured in the inside faces). Some slightly narrower spacers will be etched for production runs to allow builders the choice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chassis with rods

Chassis with rods
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Moment of truth time. With all the wheels and the cranks on the con rods were fitted and the chassis tentatively rolled forward.

It worked !

Everything went round as expected. Actually not as expected which was lumpy with the whole lot locking up at some point. Instead it rolled reasonably smoothly. OK, the rods fell off after it rolled the length of the board but then that’s why you have to fit the washers to hold them on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crank it up

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.

Great big whirly cranks are a nightmare on model locomotives. Most kit-makers suggest something that flaps around on the chassis with loads of slop in the coupling rod/crank pin interface. This works but doesn’t look nice. It’s a good way to get yourself some jerky running too.

The cranks are much better. A development of Mercian’s Barclay cranks, they are made of laminations which fit on the end of a Romford axle. This sorts out the quartering and keeps things tidy.

I didn’t use all the laminations this time – P4 modeller may need a bit more chunkiness but these have to tuck behind OO spaced rods.

I screwed the first two bits of metal to the axle as they have the square centre holes and then held the others (with round holes) to them with sprung tweezers. Solder is run around the edge and then cleaned up.

Result – a nice chunky crank. A little bit of filler would hide the laminations but under the footplate, behind the steps, no-one will notice.

To finish the job, I tapped the crank pin hole to 10BA so a Romford pin will screw in. It could just be soldered in place but I thought I'd go all engineering.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Class 14 chassis

class 14 chassis
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Progress on the 14 has been slowed by all this boat stuff but I know a shift on is needed. The show the model needs to be ready for is only a couple of weeks away.

Anyway, here’s the chassis. There isn’t much to say about this really, Solder the spacers in and then the bearings. Finish with the overlays.

Of course there are niggles. Trevor has had some new spacers etched for OO modellers. I didn’t like these and used the originals, which are tight on the backs of the wheels but work OK. They fit better too as the new versions don’t have the tabs in quite the right place as far as I can tell.

The overlays were soldered by tinning the backs and also the chassis. A good brush load of flux later and some gentle heat around the edge joins the two. Superglue would work just as well and be easier to clean up but I’m supposed to do these things “properly”.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

There's a hole in my wallet

Alice Upjohn
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.

Day 2 – Time to spend some money.

Despite not buying a single kit I still managed to damage my bank balance today . My plan was to get all the difficult to source parts for two boats, a 1/24th Brede Lifeboat and 1/12th Cygnet fishing boat. The later is easy, all I needed was the propeller – everything else is pretty standard.

The lifeboat though is a different kettle of fish. I want to do a proper job on this with all the detail possible. The prototype has twin props and tiny little rudders. If the model is to go around corners, some steering via the motors seems like a good idea. Action Electronic provided just the stuff. I laid out the plan and he suggested the kit. Props came from Prop shop while shafts and couplings came from Scoonie. A radar unit was found on Anglian Models stand hanging from the Robbie fittings rack,

While I don’t plan to start the boat for at least a couple of months, this show is the one chance I have of getting all the bits at one go. In fact I think I’ve bought the majority of the bits I need for next years boat modelling today.

One of the most impressive parts of the show had little to do with boats and a lot to do with people. As it’s Remembrance Day, a 2 minute silence was observed at 11am. Over a thousand people were in the hall and all fell silent at the appointed time. I know there are ceremonies around the country but being somewhere where people chose to observe the silence is particularly moving. By chance I found I was looking at a German fire boat and a warship of some description at the time. Poignant.

Anyway, the photo shows the winner of the “Model Phil would like to build” for this event. It’s a Metcalf Mouldings “Alice Upjohn” lifeboat. This looks fantastic. It’s 1/12th scale but still a manageable size. At £325, the kit is not badly priced considering what you get – over 800 parts including several hundred whitemetal fittings. The detail is superb. Maybe next year…

More photos here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boat show, Day 1

Brede Door
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
My first day on the stand at the boat show this year. It’s very busy. In fact I hung around the stand most of the day as you couldn’t really walk around the exhibition hall very easily.

Lots of nice things were said about Tomsk & Pigeon Pie. I managed to get both of these on the water too. Let’s face it, tables full of model boats are nice but seeing them float is important. Most people don’t bother but I think it’s a shame not to have a go at least once. But then I only like playing trains when I have an audience…

Go on, have a look at the pictures in Flickr.

Friday, November 09, 2007

3mm Scale Jinty

3mm Scale Jinty
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I thought I’d finished the working week with my favourite sort of post – a picture of a successful model completely finished.

The Jinty has been a nice kit to build. OK, some alignment tabs would have been nice, as would wider chassis spacers. Apart from that it’s no problem and I enjoyed it.

I’ve finished my model as a reasonably clean example. A few different shades of brown were misted on with the airbrush to take the edge of the colour but it’s not one of my really filthy examples.

At the end of the day, if you want a 3mm scale Jinty, this kit comes highly recommended.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boat show

KMC Stand
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Just a quick trip out this evening to drop some boats off for this weekend’s International Model Boat show.

I’ve got three models on display, Pigeon Pie, Little Miss Minty and Tomsk. The later makes it on to the stand due to it’s current appearance in a magazine. I think people like to see things they have seen in print for real so Tomsk & Minty are an added attraction for the Knightcote Model Boat Club stand.

Each model I’ve dropped off has a little card with it containing information on the kit, motor and power source along with a few notes. I know I like to know a bit more about the models I’m looking at and get frustrated when there is no information provided. Worse, the people on the stand never know about the model either. The builder will be “around somewhere” but never seems to return.

This extra info to me is part of exhibiting. I want people to get something from seeing my models other than just looking at another boat. With 300 to chose from it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. While some will look and dream at the larger and more complex vessels on display, other are realistic and use the visit as a chance to decide on the next project. A bit of info helps this enormously and might just encourage a trip to one of the ver handy traders !

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Putting a brake on it

Jinty chassis with brakes
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
I’ll be honest, chassis work isn’t my favourite part of building a locomotive and doing the brake gear is my least favourite part of this.

Brakes have to go on after the chassis has been painted which makes the soldering difficult – you can’t clean flux off the metal any more without dunking the motor in water. Even I know that's a bad idea.

So, I made up the brakes and hangers and attach them with the smallest amount of solder possible. I had to use a little flux and in this case, solder paste. But lingered with the iron to boil as much off as possible.

Fitting the pull rods strengthened everything up a lot and certainly makes the whole thing look better. Perhaps it’s because RTR when I was a newer modeller didn’t have them but I find pull rod appearing in front of the wheels looks really “finescale”.

Sandboxes are glued in place. I ignored the pipes fearing they would just get in the way. It’s tough enough to keep the cross wires on the pull rods out of the pickups without any other fiddly, but difficult to spot, bits near electricity.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sloppy chassis

Jinty chassis from the top
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Returning to the Jinty chassis, all I had to do was dismantle it, paint and then reassemble.

This was fine but during the rebuilding I took the opportunity to get some spacers in between the wheels and the frames on the drive axle. I had about 3mm of side-play !

I think some wider chassis spacers would have been a good idea here. I used the widest ones in the kit but they were still too narrow, even on the compensated axles which have thicker bearings. Strange though as the kit chassis was designed for 14.2 gauge. Perhaps the designer assumed we all use Romford wheels (I wish).

Having said this, under test the chassis ran around the layout so I can’t complain too much. I still sorted the powered end though just to be sure.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lighter shade of brown

Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
For various reasons I wasn’t able to stray very far from the computer this weekend. Good news for my modelling I suppose as I could have little bursts of activity.

One job done was finishing the lighter (dumb barge) built for towing behind Tomsk & Puffin. My Dad built it and I had to paint it.

First coat was brushed on Humbrol black. I would have sprayed but couldn’t be bothered to set up the airbrush. Besides, brush painting is relaxing when you don’t have to worry about accuracy.

The airbrush then added some dirt in various shades of brown. I was aiming for a rusty hulk look. Difficult when the model is made of wood.

The load is a mix of lead (2kgs) then polystyrene, newspaper, sawdust and finally model railway ballast.

The final touch was dry-brushing the inside with rust and pale grey.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Class 14 kit

Class 14 kit
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
OK, here it is – the Mercian Models Class 14 Diesel kit. I know at least one person out there is keen to see this, so here goes…

This is what I have. There are still a few minor details parts missing but these will follow very shortly. The kit is etched in nickel silver and basically shot down from a 7mm scale kit. The picture on the box is the O gauge locomotive.

My task is to build this and have it ready for Trevors stand at Warley in a months time.

I have an advantage as I built an earlier version of this a couple of years ago. As I recall it went together very well. The bad news is I don’t really remember it. And there are no instructions, I think I’m supposed to write these as well.

Watch this space.

Numbers up

Painted Jinty body
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
Transfers don’t half improve a model. The trouble is they can ruin it as well. Wonky numbers do nothing for the look of a locomotive no mater how good the metalwork is.

I get around this by making a guide from scrap plasticard - only a rectangle but it works.

For the Jinty I made it deep enough to sit in the footplate with the top reaching the bottom of the numbers. Suprisingly this works well and is easy to use. Even doing the spacing by eye doesn’t cause me too much grief.

The process is quicker, even allowing for making the guide, than fiddling around doing everything by eye. Much less swearing too !

The numbers on the front are hand painted ‘cos I don’t think I have anything small enough and even if I did, putting them on would be a real pain. As long as there is something on the front plate the eye seems happy, or at least mine is.

The totem is harder. I have only two sizes on the 3mm special sheet from Fox Transfers. One was much too small and the other slightly too big. I went for the later as I felt it looked better on the model. BR seemed a bit haphazard when they picked the transfer from some locos too so I won’t be losing sleep of this.

After transfering, the body was given a quick spray of satin varnish. Once those numbers are on I want them to stay there !

Final touch is the smokebox being hand painted (can’t be bothered to do the masking) with mat black. This contrasts nicely with the rest of the body and looks very authentic.