Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mystery Artist

Christopher Bell asks: I live on the west coast of Canada and a long time ago I acquired a painting of an older English yard locomotive (puffy?) pulling a few cars and it is signed either Phil Packer or Phil Parker and I wonder if you are the artist or know who might know who the artist is?

I can certainly help with the locomotive. It's a Fowler 3F "Jinty".  In the painting it appears to be hauling milk tanks in the snow. The number, 47662, would suggest that the scene is in BR days. Thanks to the Internet, I can even find a photo of this very loco working as a station pilot at Lancaster.

The artist is more of a problem. It's not me for a start. While I'm pretty handy with a paint brush on 3D things, in 2D, despite lessons, I have negligible talent.

Google doesn't help much either, no Phil Packers or Phil Parkers appear as artists.

My feeling is that we have a reasonably talented amateurs work. However, does anyone out there know better?

I'm no art expert so maybe Mr Packer/Parker is a named artist somewhere or maybe you have one of his paintings hanging on your wall. I can't imagine this is the only canvas he painted so there must be more somewhere. Answers in the comments section please.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Peugeot 206 rear wiper replacement

Washing your car is supposed to be good for it. Well, I beg to differ - attacking the back of my Peugeot with a sponge the rear wiper fell off.

206 Rear Wiper 1

Looking at the bottom end of the wiper where it's supposed to be attached to the car, the problem was obvious. The plastic part had broken in two. Worse, this had happened before as I found distinct evidence of old glue down there.

My first throught was to re-do the glue fix. Some slow-set epoxy, perhaps braced with some bits of wire pushed through the plastic to staple it together wouldn't have been too hard. A quick search on-line showed this to be a waste of time. Replacement wiper arms, complete with blade, were on sale for around 8 quid. I'd probably spend that much on a decent tube of epoxy glue and still have a wiper I was nervous about using.

A few minutes on eBay and 2 days later I held the replacement part. OK, it's not an original Peugeot item but the quality looked OK.

Fitting should just be a case of undoing the 13mm nut from the wiper shaft, pushing the new part in place and doing it up. Needless to say it wasn't quite that easy. Still on the shaft was the mazak (a type of metal) collar. I'd thought this would stay but it turns out it's part of the new wiper, so the old one had to come off.

206 Rear Wiper 2

I started with a few good sprays of penetrating oil (WD40, will OK, but get the real thing sometime as it's dead handy around the house and car) which was left a couple of hours to soak in. Next some mole grips were gently applied to the collar.

206 Rear Wiper 3

Mazak tends to go crumbly over time so I just waggled them back and forth until the collar fell to bits. Pliers would work just as well - you might even be able to pull it off whole although there's no need as it went in the bin. Neither shaft or collar are splined inside so should turn under pressure like this.

After that, I cleaned up the shaft a little and pushed the new wiper arm in to place. The 13mm nut was done up reasonably tight - no need as far as I can tell to go mad. In fact if you insist on going all macho with the spanner, you'll probably mess up the wiper motor. I aimed to push the arm down the shaft a little. A bit of oil or grease under the nut isn't a bad idea either as I may want to get it off again one day.

206 Rear Wiper 4

Simple and cheap. At least this bit should be OK at the MOT and the replacement looks better than the old one too.

206 Rear Wiper 5

Legal note: This is an accurate description of what I did. I am not a professional mechanic and these notes are offered for entertainment only. If you chose to follow them and things don't work, it's not my fault. Sorry. If you are at all unsure then get a professional to do the job. The car used was a 1996 UK spec 206, other models may be different.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A visit to Foxdale

Foxdale 2

A couple of years ago, we started work on an Isle of Man Railways project - a model of Foxdale station. To be honest, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, things have stalled thanks largely to me have so many projects on the go that I don't have time to move it on.

This doesn't mean the project has been abandoned. Far from it. While on the IOM we took a scenic bus ride to find the station building which still exists.

Wandering around the site of the line makes understanding the plans a whole lot easier and of course you feel more connected with the prototype doing this.

The top view shows the station looking towards the lead mines. Below we are pointing at the junction at St Johns. From here the trackbed looks pretty intact. Maybe once the line is re-instated to Peel, someone could just run a branch up here? Mind you, they might get this done before I finish our model!

Foxdale 1

The building is now in the hands of the Foxdale Heritage Centre. Visit their website for history and photos showing the station when the railway was working.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Brush Magic

Catching up on my reading, I see that in the current British Railway Modelling, there is my review of Deluxe Materials "Brush Magic". According to the website, "Brush Magic is a powerful, non flammable brush cleaner for the rapid cleaning of all types of wet or dried paints from brushes etc."

Sadly, the space available precluded the before and after shots of the brushes I tested the cleaning product on. That's a pity as the stuff really works well. I've tried similar products for rejuvenating paint brushes in the past and none have worked nearly as well.

As a test, I tried it on three brushes – a couple of Trumpeter synthetic brushes and a very old bristle brush. All three had paint build-up that had hardened many months ago. You can see from the photo that two of the brushes changed colour, in a good way, and the other looked a bit happier. Since this last one was bought cheaply from Beatties when they had a shop in central Birmingham, you can work out how old it might be - older than some readers of this blog!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Choose your kit

All things being equal, I'm planning to spend most of October on the wrong side of the world. I've been invited to give a talk to the British Railway Modellers of Australia and since it seems daft to fly out there for 3 days, I'm going for a couple of weeks with stopovers in Hong Kong on the way there and back.

This means a dearth of modelling going on - you can't do a huge amount in a hotel room with a trouser press and no soldering iron. I am aiming to drop in some updates from Aus, the specification for the hotels included an en suite shower and WiFi, but who knows if the foreign interweb is the same as our good British version? A trip to the national railway museum is on the cards for a start.

Anyway, if I want to keep the up the post-a-day schedule, then I need to line up some reading in advance for you lot. The easiest way to do this is to built a loco kit as this serves up loads of posts in a modest amount of time. That's important as I have to fill up quite a lot of magazine pages before I go too.

So - a dig in the unbuilt kit box unearthed the selection above. What I want to know is, which one would you like to see built?

Nu Cast GWR Railcar: Complete but unstarted. I even found a DS10 motor for it. The model is mostly whitemetal and looks nice. There's scope for some detailing and the waggly bits could be interesting.

Ratio LMS Johnson 2-4-0: A plastic locomotive kit. The wheels are horrid Mazak so will need to be replaced, a shame as they use a funky split axle pickup system. The motor is a 50p jobbie too so that might not survive.

K's SR Radial Tank: Bought mostly finished, there probably isn't much building in this one.

Branchlines "Peacock" O 16.5 shunter: Unstarted and a nice looking kit. Complete with all its bits.

I know which one I fancy but thought I'd throw the discussion open to anyone who wants to put something in the comments below. I might take notice or I might not, but you could persuade me. You'll find out the result in October...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crane tank wheelies

Crane Tank

Sharon and Daryl ask:

Did you manage to get the southeast fine cast crane tank working without it doing wheelies?

Be grateful for some help if you have any tips to get it working.

They have obviously been reading the Melbridge Dock rolling stock page where I mention the propensity this loco has to pull a wheelie when moving forward.

It's all an issue of weight distribution. This is a whitemetal loco with the rear wheels only 5mm away from being in the centre of its length. Worse, the hefty cab and bunkers are over or behind the rear wheels whereas the lightweight boiler and chimney are on front.

Add in to the mix the low gearing forced on the design by the need to cram a tiny motor and gearset in the low-slung boiler and it's all looking a bit bad with a potential for jack-rabbit starting.

To counteract this, I've added some lead behind the front bufferbeam and although the manufacturer supplies a slug of whitemetal for the smokebox, I replaced this with lead shot as well.

Apart from that, there's not much you can do apart from use a quality controller and ease away gently. The careful driver will keep all four wheels on the track.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shunting engines

I'm not a big fan of poetry - it rather passes me by. I like a limerick but the "proper" stuff? No thanks.

Despite this, I picked up a little booklet by Mirfield signalman Walter Nugent Sinkinson and since it was only 25p, my curiosity was piqued.

It seems that the author wrote all the poems inside himself and to my untutored eye, they seem pretty good. Being railway subjects probably means the art world wasn't interested but since this is the third volume in the set, presumably other were.

From the book, I bring you a poem called "Shunting Engines" which seems to sum them up nicely:

Shunting Engines

Snorty little Shunters,
 Busy at the Docks;
Simulating lions,
 Really bantam cocks.

To-and-fro unceasing.
 Jostling over joints,
Buffer clapping buffer,
 Clattering over points.

Dwarfs among the hoppers,
 At whose bulk they tug,
Piping pygmy whistles,
 Fierce with chuff and chug.

Out in early morning,
 Quick with steam and blast,
Evening slowly homing,
 Each faint sh! the last.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Midland Railex 2014

Loco amid the ruins

Since I've exhibited at the last couple of Midland Railex's and thoroughly enjoyed myself, it seemed like a good idea to spend 90 minutes in the car and turn up a a proper paying punter this year.

Getting to Butterly station in plenty of time, I paid my £13.50 and was immediately offered a £2 voucher if I gift aided the fee, a simple matter of completing an tiny form. Good thinking there from someone - I'd rather that the railway received the money that George Osbourne.

The short train ride behind a Class 24 diesel dropped us at Swanwick station, the venue for the show. Exhibits are spread around the site so assuming that most people would head straight for the main shed, we pointed in the other direction and went to steam shed via a bacon buttie van.

Wartime fire engineRailex provides the novel feature of real trains and model ones. This year as a special feature there were military vehicles since it's the big anniversary of WW1.

I'd not really gone with a shopping list but the steam shed depleted my cash reserves pretty quickly as the booksellers there were all doing some very good deals. The HMRS headquarters seemed to be shedding excess stock leaving me to walk around with a years worth of Meccano magazines in my bag for a quid. I'd have brought another 6 years back with me too if I had felt strong enough...

Layouts were mostly on a military theme and while I think I'd seen them all before, the quality was (to my mind) pretty high. I'm not really a fan of wartime stuff but even so, I can appreciate the work. They weren't really gun-ho either with plenty of evidence of the grimmer side of wartime with the inured, destroyed buildings and refugees modelled.

Outside we had a line up of military vehicles. No tanks but plenty of examples that you can replicate from the Airfix Recovery and Emergency sets.

Cakes on a plateCakes from the on-site cafe were superb. Not too large but very tasty and inexpensive too. Just to be on the safe side, when offered an exhibitor tea by a friend, I checked this out and can report the people inside the barriers were also fed nearly as well.

As well as all the military stuff of course there were vintage buses, lorries and the fork lift truck collection which continues to fascinate me.

Look out for a couple of follow-up posts next week from this event. In the meantime, enjoy my photos over on Flickr.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Talking about the future of railway modelling

Phil does speakingOn Tuesday, I was invited to speak top the Coventry branch of the Gauge O Guild (CovGOG) about the current state of our hobby.

I can't remember how this came about but I found myself in a church facing 22 railway modellers. They wouldn't let me use the pulpit but did supply a data projector so I couldn't complain too much.

My talk was entitled:

Model Railways

Where is our hobby now and where is it going?
I kicked off with a very short potted history of the hobby trying to spot some of the major turning points such as the appearance of Airfix GMR railways and Hornby's Merchant Navy.
After this we look at the publishing world and see how this has changed over the years. Again, it's brief, but important.
Finally, the contentious stuff. How do I see the hobby developing in the future?
Well, my feeling is that it will stratify into 4 sectors. These are deliberately set up to be discussion points and I was pleased that the audience were happy to have the debate. My big worry was that they would sit there like puddings but they didn't and it made for a great fun evening.
Many people are nervous of public speaking but after years of practise and not a little ego, I enjoy it. With a few different topics available, if there are any clubs out there looking for a speaker, please get in touch and we'll see if something can be sorted out.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A mini modelling den?

I'm a bit of a connoisseur of modelling bench solutions. Years ago the magazines often ran pieces by people who had used their carpentry skills to produce an ingenious fold-out work area that was easy to store but could quickly be opened out on the kitchen table to give the space-starved modeller somewhere to work.

One I recall from an issue of Railway Modeller in the black & white days even included a pillar drill in the case so the tyro scratchbuilder could make nice accurate locomotive chassis. Apart from this I remember drawers for tools and materials and the whole thing being the size of a modest suitcase - what we now consider "carry on" size although they didn't have this in those days.

Modellers are still using the excuse that they don't have anywhere to work as a means to avoid the actual modelling part of the hobby, but now from Japan, home of solutions for those short of space, comes the Cozy Room.

120cm wide and 125cm deep with the chair slid in, the "room" provides space for a monitor, drinks, and action figures apparently. Looking at all the drawers and shelves, I reckon it would make an ideal mini modelling room with space for tools and materials close to hand.

OK, you couldn't build a layout in there (Hmmm, a challenge...) but for rolling stock, road vehicles and modest buildings, it wouldn't be too bad at all. I'd want to augment the air vents to remove soldering fumes but apart from that, I can't see any reason, other than claustrophobia, that it wouldn't work.

Price: £4781 - If you get one, let me know.

More details on the Kakureya website.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Holiday Pics: The County Donegal Railcars

RailcarTime for one of the legendary items of the Isle of Man steam railway rolling stock - a pair of diesel railcars from the County Donegal railway in Ireland.

Bought by the Manx line in the 1960s, the plan was for them to support the ailing steam engines by providing some of the passenger services.

As there are no turntables in the island, and the railcars are single-ended, they were couple back to back. Sometimes a van was slotted in between them for added luggage capacity.

Since the gearboxes only had a single reverse gear, when running backward, one railcar would haul the other dead. Presumably this wasn't a huge problem although it can't have helped the top speed much.

Railcar interior

In the 1990s, the railcars had been out of service for some time and a decision was taken to fully restore them. Work started and appears to have been carried out to an Railcar woodworkextremely high standard but then they project ran out of money. For over a decade the cars have been shuffled between sheds and no progress has been made.

Our tour guide hadn't been told that we mustn't have a look at these vehicle, so we did. He also hadn't been told that we shouldn't climb in and have a look. So I did.

An awful lot of work has been carried out and as I say, to a very high (to my eye) standard. At present apparently the cabs are sitting on the wrong chassis. Also there seems to be lot of mechanical parts not fitted, although these are all there and some have been renovated I'm told.

It would be fantastic to see these railcars back on track. As a commuter service during the TT races, something the railway currently run with steam engines, they ought to be a valuable addition to the fleet. Let's hope that it's not too long before we can ride on them again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hellingly in a partwork

When you buy the first issue of a partwork for the gift strapped to the cover, do you ever look at the magazine contained in the package?

If you do, and you have signed up for "Your Model Railway Village" and stuck with it to issue 36, you'll find 4 pages on my model of the Hellingly Hospital Railway.

It seems that while many ignore the printed part of the package, in truth it's worth a look. I was approached to write this piece so there is some effort being put in to provide quality content. It was, I admit, something that hadn't crossed my mind but nice to know.

I don't know for certain what people who received Issue 36 find attached to it, although the instructions contained within the pages would suggest some cobblestone sheet to be used around the station.

As well as this and my piece (which looks very nice) a couple of pages delve in to the price of travel in the age of steam. Third class and workman's fares are covered and I suspect that for the market this publication is aimed at, this will be interesting information. Hard-core enthusiasts might scoff, but we were all beginners once .

Nice to see an honest assessment of the photo accompanying the third class information. The happy travellers are described, "However the people in this scene look happy to be in third class, perhaps because the photograph was taken for publicity purposes by the GWR!"

Who says marketing is a new thing?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Holiday Pics: Working Workbenches

Isle of Man Tramways clockWhile touring both the steam railway and electric electric railway sheds over on the Isle of Man, I developed a (possibly) unhealthy interest in the tools and equipment that are used to maintain vintage rail transport. In particular, I took photos of every workbench I could see.

Some, such as the MER bench on the right, were tiny work areas. I'll be honest, I took this photo more for the clock above it which proclaims it belongs to the "Isle of Man Tramways and Power Company".

This long title dates from the days when the railway generated its own electricity and as such was the first power company on the island to provide power in this way.

Nowadays, the power arrives from the grid but the setup isn't so different from the Hellingly Hospital Railway which existed partly to take coal to the power station. Built at the same time as the MER, there wasn't a national grid on the mainland either.

Steam Railway WorkbenchOver at the steam railway, this are a little more heavy industry with a pillar drill and fine collection of clamps hanging on the wall.

Maybe the staff had a tidy up before the tourists were admitted to look around, but it doesn't look pretty neat. All the drill bits are slotted in to the home-made wooden rack for easy access for example.

What you can't hide is the patina that engineering provides. Look at the metalwork making up the sturdy bench and the grubiness of the rough interior walls. You can't fake that!

If there was a tidy up it didn't seem to extend to sweeping swarf away or emptying the bucket of damp underneath. Not sure that electrical lead should be quite so close to it though.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Little box

Not made from ticky taky, but from plywood. Quite nice 3mm thick stuff actually. This once was picked up in a junk shop last week for a whopping 50p.

No, it didn't come with any chocolates inside. Not a problem as I don't like liqueurs much anyway.

I don't know about you, but I find wooden boxes irresistible, even ones intended for the rubbish bin. For a change though, I knew I had a use for this one. The cigar box (also wood) that holds my collection of Kibri/Knightwing crates, barrels, boxes, pallets etc mouldings, is over full. The lid won't shut and the contents keep spilling out.

At 22 by 16 by 6 cm, this box will hold them all with space to spare.

Before filling, I gave the wood three coats of Ronseal well 'ard floor varnish from a tin knocking around in the garage. A light sanding between each has resulted in a nice smooth finish. It probably sounds daft to spend an hour doing this on a 50p box, but I'm pleased with the results.

Now, what to do with a newly empty cigar box?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Retro Warwick classic car show

Grey Car on a Grey dayThe rain was coming down hard. I looked out of the window and wondered what sort of person would be daft enough to go out in this.

Listening to the weather forecast, the Met Office were warning that the remnants of Hurricane Bertha were making Londoners wet resulting in riots as people panic-bought sun-dried tomatoes in the Hoxton branch of Waitrose.

To be honest, I'd forgotten about Retro Warwick until I saw a post from Practical Classics on Facebook showing one of the team sat in the Radio CWR studio. It's a really nice free event in the centre of our country town. The roads are closed off and people with classic cars park them so everyone can have a good look.

Putting this sort of event together takes a lot of time and effort from people who aren't paid for either. It was this thought that made me decide to hop on a bus and go and have a look anyway. Well, after I'd checked on Twitter (I do loads of social media me) that things were happening. It might seem odd not to drive but with the roads closed, parking might be interesting and anyway, the bus stop is 2 minutes walk from the central square, probably a shorter walk than from the car park.

As expected, the rain was falling, but there were cars to see. Adopting the attitude that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, I had a look around.

View from the museum

One advantage of a wet day is that photography is a lot easier. Grabbing that shot without people in the way is no problem, except, oddly, with a Princess. This isn't right - I remember these things on the road so surely it can't be old now can it? Why did everyone wan to have a look at that one?

Thing is, it's not just old cars that are now classics. Original shape Mini Metro anyone? Proper shape Mini? My mate Big Chris has just finished restoring one after 2 years work. Renault 8? I don't recall anyone being impressed with those when they were new but now...

Anyway, have a look at my photos on Flickr and be glad you didn't have to get wet. Be even gladder that just as you got back on the bus home, the first glimmers of blue sky didn't appear.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Look out for BRM TV

Last month, I mentioned the first "Premium Edition" of British Railway Modelling magazine with a DVD included in the pack that featured, among other things, me doing some static grass things.

This pack was part of an experiment to see how well the people behind the magazine would translate to the telly and if the readers would like to see us in action as well as read our words. It seems they do.

So, from the November issue (on sale in October) the standard version of the mag will arrive with a DVD glued to the cover called "BRM TV". On this you'll get a mix of programmes including me doing more practical stuff. The only downside is that the price of the mag goes up 50p to cover the production costs.

Apparently, if you sign up for a sub ASAP you get it at the pre-increase price...

My next two segments have already been filmed, I won't spoil it for you by letting the cat out of the bag. The production team (Chris) would probably change the order the pieces appear anyway so I look stupid.

This isn't just some camcorder footage thrown at a disk. Production standards are high. My bits get done in a proper studio with lights and microphones and lots of re-takes so the editor (Chris again) have plenty of angles to work with so it looks like real telly.

Hopefully you'll enjoy the results. Video work is still new to me but I think I'm getting the hang of it. It's an opportunity to explain stuff in the same way I might do in person at a show. Some techniques are just easier to demonstrate live than write about.

You can read more about my experiences over on my writing blog.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Holiday Pics: Steamplex


How about this for a model engineering project?

Take an old Simplex diesel, strip off the internal combustion bits and add some steam ones on top. Result: the world's first SteamPlex!

It's a fun little engine. Not desperately practical as far as I can tell being powerful but not as easy to use as a more conventional engine. Listening to it thrashing away at the head of a train, it happily coped with a heavy load with only a hint of help from electric Polar Bear.

As I understand it, the single cylinder steam engine runs at one speed and the gearing left over from the original diesel handles the speed control. Whatever, this is a very entertaining loco to watch. Brilliant fun.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

People painting in BRM

In this month's BRM, I've been painting some model people.

After my efforts with the little nissen hut diorama, I fancied producing another one. Again, the people are 7mm scale mouldings from S&D Models. These are really top-notch castings that stand up to the close scrutiny of the camera lens.

When you hear anyone mention painting people, the default position is "You ought to look at what military modellers do". I beg to differ - for a start we usually need quite a lot of people on a layout whereas they can spend many hours working on a single figure. There is also a tendency to go for "hyper realism" with very deep shadows and bright highlights that doesn't really work on a model railway.

If you purchase the special WH Smith bumper pack, you'll also find me on the DVD with my paint brushes out. This time I'm showing how to dry-brush a model wagon. I haven't seen the results yet but the producer says it looks good. At the very least, this is an excellent use of the technology. Dry-brushing is very hard to explain in print but doing the same thing when people can watch what you are doing - let's just hope that a few people find it useful anyway.
In reviews, I've taken a look at the Revell Beginners airbrush - it's not a bit of kit I've seen reviewed before but I think it's definitely worth a look if you are in the market for spray painting equipment.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Holiday Pics: Viking

According to Wikipedia, This engine was built by Schöma of Germany in 1958 and purchased by the railway in 1992 replacing the time-expired railcars. During 2010, it finally wore out and has been stored in the engine shed. Diesel No.21 was bought to replace it.

Viking bonnet

Now, there are suggestions that the loco could be repaired and go back in to service, but as this would a be more than a little embarrassing to the railway management, any contract to sell the loco seems to include a clause saying it mustn't be restored to working order. Not sure how you would enforce this but it would certainly be appreciated that if you buy the loco and do fix it, please make a meal of the job. Do not make things better with nothing more than a can of WD40, a couple of spanners and 2 minutes of effort.

To be fair, the new diesel should be faster (No.17 wasn't really up to line speed) and as a bogie vehicle a lot kinder to the track and driving crew. Once up and running properly, rescuing trains or taking our file suppression equipment will be greatly improved. For all the fuss, it is the tool a line like this needs.
Personally, I've always liked Viking. It's a well balanced design with a purposeful look. Nice colour too.


Of course, if you want a real Viking, how about this pair enjoying a game of chess in Ramsey?

Viking chess players

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Holiday Pics: Diesel No.21

Number 21

The most popular photo from my holiday on Flickr was a shot of the newest member of the Isle of Man steam railway fleet, Number 21.

A controversial loco, this beast has cost £400,000 been re-engined under warranty and still doesn't do what it's supposed to. In the cab we have drive by wire controls with a flat screen console and joystick to make the loco work. Basically, it's what you find in a very modern diesel but operating on a Victorian steam railway.

First impressions are that this is a BIG beast. Far chunker than everything else on the line, it certainly has presence. It also looks a bit like someone took and plan and enlarged it a little bit too much. As a model making prospect, it looks promising. If anyone has a plan, I could be tempted.

This means we need photos and while touring the steam shed, I snapped a couple of (hopefully) useful shots.

No.21 roof

The roof is nice and simple although the pod nearest the camera might be interesting to build with all those curves.

No.21 bogie

Under the footplate, the bogies are lovely and simple. The detail isn't very prominent either - a bit like some Heljan models - so ideal for resin casting.

One thing you will need for any model is a stupidly bright headlight that will blind your camera from about half a mile away.

No21 front

Monday, August 11, 2014

Holiday Pics: Peels on a train

OK, so this week is "Phil shows off his holiday photos" week. Get ready for lots of images taken on the Isle of Man. Some of you might have seen a few of these but I'm going to take the chance to showcase some of the more unusual things I pointed my camera at.

Peels and Number 4

First up, we have some Peel micro cars loaded on the back of the flat wagon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first vehicle being produced. In the background we have No.4 "Loch" being prepared to take the scheduled passenger train back from Port Erin to Douglas. The "motorail" train was hauled by new diesel No.21, running slightly late due to oil dripping on the turbocharger.

Micro car enthusiasts will be interested to note that the prototype car above, differs from the production models quite a lot. The wheel arrangement has reversed to the more stable 2 at the front and flatter nose.
Modelling note - if I wanted to make an even more miniature Peel than the real thing, how? I'm thinking something along the lines of carving the model out of a solid lump and then casting it in clear resin but would welcome suggestions.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Manx models

The Isle of Man has given us many lovely prototypes and is you like getting your hands dirty, plenty of models. There are the GEM whitemetal kits along with the Branchlines detailing parts for the steam railway. Mark Hues produced a 4mm scale winter saloon from the Manx Electric Railway and there is the range of Elro card kits for the line in 7mm scale.
My souvenirs from Manxland were an Alphagrafix card kit for No.12 Hutchinson in the controversial blue livery - I liked it, the loco carried it for 12 years but many enthusiasts don't consider it traditional enough. A 1/43rd scale kit,
New to me though is a solid resin MER tram No.22. The model isn't too bad although perhaps a little boxy. Scale is something approaching 4mm scale. No chance of motorising it though, the model is very solid and firmly moulded to its plinth. I suppose you could try and hollow it out but if your skills are up to making a working chassis, scratchbuilding the relatively simple body won't tax you. As it is, this is destined to be a present for the friend who presented me with a Melbourne tram last year.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Manx Model Shops

Last week, I was enjoying some time on the Isle of Man and as is my thang (as da kidz probably don't say any more), I looked up any model shops I could find when I was there

First, we found ModelTech in the Strand shopping centre, Douglas. Sadly, it wasn't open when I was there - by the appointed 10am my plan involved being on the steam railway station. Not to worry, peering through the metal grating, I could see a rather nice shop of R/C fans with plenty of basic materials to keep the enthusiast going. Plastic kits, cars, aeroplanes and boats are the stock in trade.
In the side window were several made up models - not the usual stuck together by kids stuff but very, very impressive dioramas. There are obviously some very talented people amongst the customers.

Moving north to St Pauls Square, Ramsey, we find Model World.
A more traditional model shop with plastic kits, lots of dolls house products, some Hornby railways, Metcalf card kits, diecast vehicles and the usual Humbrol paints and glues plus a few more esoteric brands. Boat modellers are catered for with a range of flags and transfers. With a working port 2 minutes walk away and the sea never far from anywhere, it's not surprising there is a healthy nautical modelling community.
Quite impressive - the shop has obviously been open for some time as it's built up the sort of wide variety of stock that takes years of buying in and selling most of the new stock but not quite all. My sort of place.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Sasha painted and dirty

Stuff that looks good in real life and rubbish in photos No.1 - Washes of dirt.
The little welder has been finished with several base colours dry brushed with mixes of the base + a pale brown. All looking good and then I finish of with a wash of brown ink to bring out the shadows and add a suitable hint of workshop dirt. This looks fantastic in real life but not in the photos where it all looks a bit scabby.
Never mind, I did manage a couple of successes here. The first involves a broken arm after the skin colour was applied. This figure is a "second" and the arms are hollow. An accidental contact with the floor left me with a superglue repair to carry out. This went OK but not perfectly. Proper modellers would sand the limb back to resin and re-paint. I just added a slightly random band around the break to draw the eye away from it.
Second, I managed to find a lip colour that worked. While the box art shows red lips, a deep brown from the Lifecolor flesh set appears a whole lot more natural. Something to do with toning down colours for scale use perhaps?