Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Scratchbuilt(ish) Manning Wardle H Class

Manning Wardle H Class

Back in 2012, I was freelanceing for Hornby Magazine and in my "Parkers Guide" column, pushed the envelope a little with some simple scratchbuilding. 

Taking the Dapol (now Hornby) L&Y "Pug" as the basis for a model, I scraped the entire body away and built a new version using Plastikard and a whitemetal chimney.  The end result ran as well as a Pug does, which is OK, and looked (IMHO) pretty good. 

Best of all, I know the article inspired a couple of people to do the same project, and both were as happy with their locos as I was with mine. 

I suppose nowadays, there would be the cry "can you 3D print it to save me some effort" but that defeats the object of the exercise. Nothing here is difficult, you just need to take your time and throw away any bits you cut out that aren't as good as you would like.

Manning Wardle H Class

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Peugeot 308 tail light unit/bulbs replacement


Even at very low speed, revering your car into the corner of a shipping container is going to result in Peugeot 0: Steel box 1. That, and a lot of swearing. 

A scuffed bumper aside, the main damage was to the rear tail light, which needed replacement. A look on eBay brought up a second hand unit for 70 quid (new ones appear to be £120), so it was time to get the spanners out and hide my shame!

Handy hint: If you aren't sure exactly which model your car is, look up the registration online. Mine is the 308 Allure Sw S/S registered in 2018. No, I didn't know this. I mean there is a badge on the back, so I know some of it, but the bewildering model nomenclature - we didn't have this problem with VW Beetles!

To make sure I ordered the correct part, I removed the light unit to see the sticker on the bottom which has the exact part number. Searching on this took me to the right component and ensured I was confident I had the bit I wanted.


The light unit is held in place with a pair of bolts. Initially I'd expected more, but then realised that changing a bulb requires the removal of the light unit, so the job needs to be reasonably easy. 

Access is through a removable panel in the side of the luggage area. You can see the right hand bolt in the photo. 

The left hand bolt is harder to get a look at but it's getatable through the hatch. Proximity to the cable makes working by touch trickier, but not too bad. 

The only tool needed for the job is a 10mm spanner. I used a deep socket, the normal version isn't quite deep enough. Put a cloth under the nut to avoid it dropping out of reach. I lost two sockets on this job in the depths of the car...

The nuts are an interesting, and new to me, combined nut and washer unit. The washer turns, but comes off with the nut - weird when you are working by touch and haven't seen them before. 

With both nuts removed, wiggling the plastic unit will free it from the car. I didn't need to force it, just persistent waggling it around and eventually it came away. 

The wiring connection is removed by pushing the tab on the side of the plug. 

Reassembly is the reverse of the above - and that's it. The job took around 20 minutes because I wasn't rushing things. Putting new bulbs in would require pretty much the same work, hence the access hatch I suppose. 

The paint damage buffed out with some T-Cut and bit of elbow grease.  Next time I go around to my storage unit, I'll be extra careful!

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 2018 UK spec 308, other models may be different.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Building the Hornby rocket


No, not the Stephenson's one. A space rocket. 

When the press release came through on Friday, telling us that the Hornby Playtrains portal had been expended with a range of free Print and Stick models, I had to take a look. 

And then I had to have a go. My choice is this red rocket. It stands 11cm tall and will look lovely with a Battlespace Turbo Car. 

 The instructions tell you to print the PDF file on paper and stick them to card. That seemed like hard work, I just printed the file on some thin card, which seemed to work. 

A little cutting and scoring while watching Battlestar Galactica (1970s version) and some Roket (appropriately) card glue, and the job was done. 

OK, these models are aimed at kids, but that doesn't mean I can't have a go does it?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday Fim Club: Sleepers in a model shop?

Time for a bit of a laugh with this Fry & Laurie scketch set in a model shop. 

Taking those kits apart really is a long project...

Friday, March 26, 2021

Probably should have got a BOGOFF on this model...


I've been at the MRC second-hand shop again, and among some useful stuff, I picked up a few oddities, the first of which is this Peco Wonderful wagon. 

Youngsters probably don't know who Izal are, and that makes them very lucky indeed!

Izal toilet paper is thin, slippery stuff that smears rather than wipes. "Popular" in public conveniences and outside facilities years ago, it had no redeeming features whatsoever (go on, someone come up with one) and is one of those products that convince me that "the good old days" weren't as wonderful as misty-eyed old folks would have you believe. 

Peco Wondeful Wagon kits were a clever way to produce easy to assemble kits to bolster your fleet when the RTR world offered a limited selection. 

Embossed card sides fold around a plastic core, and the result isn't bad at all if assembled neatly as as been done here. The chassis and wheels were good for their time, and passable today if you aren't an underframe obsesive. 

One day, those couplings will have to go, but I'm not sure if they will be replaced by tension locks or Sprat & Winkles. It all depends what sort of layout this makes an appearance on. I quite fancy is sneaking on to a "proper" layout one day.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Roll on the April issue of BRM

 Something both different and traditional in the latest issue of BRM.

Different in that I've not built anything 7mm scale for a while, and traditional in that's it's a whitemetal kit. That lead-alloy stuff that new modellers won't have handled much, if at all.

Because of this, I've tried to provide pointers and techniques with more general application than a blow-by-blow account of building the model. I like traction engines and road rollers anyway, as do many other railway enthusiasts I suspect.

Over in the review section, I get my hands on painted examples of the Hattons Genesis coaches. I'm no coach expert, but since these are generic, that's not really an issue. They are very much the sort of thing that a small layout builder like me can use. Handy, as the issue also has a small layout theme with some superb examples. 

Finally, on BRM TV, I'm looking at different scales to provide an overview for beginners, or those who fancy some bigger or smaller modelling for a change. 

More details over on RMweb for the April 2021 issue.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Aoshima Suzuki Jimney 1:32 model

 I buy odd kits. And something about the regular adverts from Plaza Japan for a Jimney plastic kit appealed to me. I quite like a boxy car, and the Jimney might have a stupid name, but I just fancied the fun of sticking the bits together - not that there would be any sticking as this is a snap-together plastic kit.

The bits look nice. Everything is in plastic bags, and impressively, the wheels are painted metalic grey. It was this detail that broke my enui. Looking at the photo on the side of the box, it appeared that they were showing a real model, not one someone had done over to look good. 

There's no painting, instead, lots of stickers, and I mean LOTS, cover all the colour details. Even the windscreen wipers and door locks are stickered. Not sure about the former, but everything else works really well. Peeling and applying these took the best part of a (relaxed) hour. 

The chassis snaps together as expected. Tyres are a stiff vinyl and the wheels rotate, but not freely enough to brooooom the car along the carpet. Those painted wheels are a nice touch. 

Inside, the seats and dashboard fold up and clip to make a tub. There are more stickers for the dashboard and even around the handbrake - although that one defeated me so I left it out. A nice black vinyl makes sense for an off-road car, so no painting required. 

And there we have it. A couple of hours kitbuilding produces a pretty good-looking model. For the most part, the stickers work really well. I'm not 100% convinced about the windscreen surrounds, they don't quite meet the edges of the body, but the chrome lettering and lights are spot on. 

At 11cm long, 5cm wide and 5.5cm tall, this isn't a big model. Everything went together perfectly, except the radio aerial, which needed some glue. If I'd been more patient, perhaps it wouldn't have fallen off and got lost. 

As the basis for a more advanced build, there's nothing wrong with this kit. Paint on the body and inside the cabin would be a start. Some seatbelts and perhaps even driver and passengers would be nice. That's for another day, and probably another modeller though. For the minute, this can live in the cabinet or corner of a cupboard until I can work out what to do with it. 

Most importantly, I enjoyed the build, and that's what it's all about!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The longest journey starts with a single step


Does anyone else find themselves bogged down when facing a new kit? 

I bought a cheap plastic kit for a Suzuki Jimney recently as a way to try and break my lack of enthusiasm for making things. My plan - stick it together with no expectations other than I'd finally have made something. 

But then my brain gets in the way. I start looking at the body and thinking I'll need to paint it, and that really means going out to the garage and using the airbrush. While out there, the chassis and black bits would benefit from some paint. 

Then I really ought to detail the interior - and so it goes on. I'm feeling tired just thinking about it. So the kit goes back in the box and back on the pile as it's more work than I'm in the mood for right now. 

I look at serious plastic modellers work and am normally very impressed, but wonder if some of the fun has been lost. The fun we had as kids of just sticking a model together without fretting about the finer details. 

This is a hobby. It's supposed to be fun, but do our expectations get in the way of our enjoyment?

Monday, March 22, 2021

B4 unboxing

Dapol B4 tank locomotive 

I've long fancied adding a B4 tank to my loco fleet. It would be a perfect shunter on Melbridge Dock. I've quite a collection of dock shunters. They are both useful, and interesting, to me at least.

Years ago, there was talk of an etched brass kit, but nothing ever came of this. Pity really, as I bought a book on the class to give me some guidance. 

Anyway, Hattons were offering a tempting price on the Dapol model recently, so I blew a bit of money I'm due for a magazine article on one. 

 Dapol B4 tank locomotive 

I'd have preferred the BR version, but that wasn't on offer. This Southern example is the best second choice - it's the right colour and just needs re-branding and a smokebox number plate adding to fit the rest of my fleet. That and some dirt of course. 

This being the Interweb, you'll be wanting to see the model taken out of it's box:

Now, where did I put that book?

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Do I hate N gauge?



I approve all comments before they are posted on this blog. It's important to stop spammers getting through. Anyway, a few days ago, this turned up: 

Maurice Pearce (Osborns Models Ltd) has left a new comment on your post "Blue DMU":

a long time between N gauge blogs Phil. I could say that does show an editorial bias against N gauge. That is fair enough and I understand we are all swayed by our personal interests and as I stated on RM web yesterday that is a problem with all the mainstream magazines that N gauge is underrated by them. Not enough articles are put forward perhaps precisely because N gauge IS underrated and the 'catch 22' situation arises. I can understand BRM's perspective but personally as a specialist N scale retailer I struggle with RM' position however, (which exists partly as a Peco promotion media), that they fail to promote a good chunk of their product range other than in their own adverts, (random page fillers). Which brings me on to the other current magazine obsession with giant half, and even full page pictures, which when depicting an N scale model of only a very few centimetres long can be made to look completely ridiculous and as never, ever intended to be viewed. So there is another problem where magazine editors can't help but show a bias in striving to fill acres of newsprint. Moan over. Roll on TINGS. 

Some context might be useful here as it's nothing to do with the Blue DMU post the commentator tried to leave it on. There is the thread running on RMweb: Is N gauge under-rated. As part of this I explained that the main reason magazines aren't stuffed full of N gauge layouts is that we don't get sent details of many. There might be some superb RTR available, but if anyone is buying it and building model railways matching the quality, finding them is proving difficult. 

However, that's not the point. Quite simply, it's no use coming on here and having a pop at me if your favourite scale or prototype isn't receiving the coverage you think it should, because, 

this is my personal blog

As I say at the bottom of the page. Anything on here isn't part of my professional work. No-one pays me to write about building Space 199 props, obsolete model loco building or 3mm scale diesels. On this blog, I get to built and photograph anything I want, and that includes weird stuff. 

What I don't do is N gauge. I've nothing against it, but it's just not my thing. I have built N gauge projects for work, and enjoyed doing it, but with so much to chose to build, on here, I'm more likely to construct an odd-ball monorail than anything in a scale smaller than 3mm. That's just the way I am. 

Someone will point out I post details of my work in BRM and Garden Rail on here - the former is so I can remember which issue various projects were carried out (the Blogger search engine is very good) and the later because I can. As I say, this is my blog!

So, I'm happy to have the conversation about magazine contents with anyone. In the context of the RMweb thread, on RMweb would make sense. If not, well, my e-mail address is hardly a state secret. 

To repeat, this is my blog. No-one gets to tell me what should appear. Ask, yes, I'm always happy to respond to requests, but tell, no.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Waterloo station

This is just fun. Interesting views of the 1970s, and a funky soundtrack. Pity the trains are so boring (ducks to avoid things thrown by EMU fans).

Friday, March 19, 2021

Webinar - 7th May


What are you doing on May 7th between 2 and 3pm? 

Would you like to learn a load of the basic techniques useful for building a model railway? 

Do you have a fiver to spare? 

Yes? - Well the good news is that I'm hosing a webinar where I'll be covering just this. In an hour, I'll build a short layout, OK, a foot-long photoplank as seen above, live, and chat to those attending as I go. 

This is a bit of an experiment, but are run-through has proved it can be done, now all we need to do is run it for real. 

Some of you may remember a course I ran at Dillington House in 2016, where we did the same thing. This went down well, so when the idea of a webinar came up, it seemed a sensible starting point. Unlike that course, you don't get a load of materials and something to take away, nor the delicious lunch unless you cook it yourself. However, it is a lot cheaper and you get just as much entertainment and instruction. 

If all this appeals - you can book here.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Modified Porter

On30 Porter

Finally this week, an On30 Porter locomotive. 

Based on a Bachmann model, the version you see here has been improved with the aid of a Backwoods Miniatures dress-up kit that is sadly, no longer available. 

You can read all the details in this blog thread.

On30 Porter

One of a batch I built for a customer (before you ask, I don't do this any more), it got a little bit broken, but I fixed the body up and kept it for myself. 

One day, I will build an On30 layout. Something for small, and somewhat worn steam and diesel engines to run on. I keep photographing minimum space models and ogling them in magazines. It's nice to dream...

On30 Porter

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Sentinel 0-4-0VBT

Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBT 

Back in 2014, I built this RT Models 100HP Sentinel for BRM. 

It's a nice kit that comes complete with a bespoke motorising unit for slow running and all-wheel drive. Using a SPUD is all very well, but they need a lot of weight piled on top of them for slow running.

Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBT 

This is, to my eyes, a handsome beast. I recall Impetus kits producing one, complete with an impressive  resin body, but by the time I could afford the price, the range had disappeared into one of those black holes from whence models never escape again. 

Etched in nickel-silver, the RT Models version is an excellent replacement. I remember some of the bits were so small they didn't survive the etching process, but that also meant that they were so small I didn't miss them on the model.

 Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBT

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Hunslet shunter

Hunslet Dock Shunter

Since I've been too busy to do any actual modelling for the last few weeks, and I really need to reacquaint myself with my Olympus PL1, I've dug some old models out of the cabinet to post here. 

First up, is the Silver Fox Models CLASS D1/1 Hunslet 0-4-0 Dock shunter. 

An attractive prototype, owing a loot of its design cues to the same firms 05 Shunter, it was high on my list to build the moment I spotted photos on the OPC published shunters book (the really old one) and realised it would be perfect for Melbridge Dock.

Hunslet Dock Shunter

I eventually constructed the resin-body kit for Hornby Magazine in 2011ish and it re-appeared on the  Parker's Guide bookazine. Running on a Tenshodo SPUD, it's pretty much built as supplied. A bit of extra wire for the handrails and electrical conduits, but the model shows how good, and easy to build, a resin kit is.

 Hunslet Dock Shunter 

The biggest change I made was to drop the model down a couple of mm to bring the skirts and cowcatcher nearer the rails, but as this is just making a hole in the rectangle of Plastikard the motor bogie its on, not too difficult.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Model Truck World

It's a brave company that launches a new paper magazine these days, but that's what Guideline Publications have done - twice. 

Home to a number of modelling mags already, plus Railway Bylines and British Railway Illustrated, they obviously see a future for paper, as not only has Model Truck World appeared on the news stands, but it's sister magazine for countryside diecast fans - Model Farmer

So, what's it like? 

Starting with the basics, the mag is full colour, A4 size and printed on very heavy paper so the photos reproduce really well. 

If you've ever looked at a military modellers magazine, much inside will be familiar to you, just with less (i.e. no) tanks. 

This is high-end model making, not just sticking plastic kit together. The materials and techniques are the same you'll see in military modelling, except for the forklift truck, which covers radio control installation as well. 

Scales are generally much larger than those railway modellers will be familiar with - 1/48 being the smallest found in there. As such, many of the methods won't be directly applicable, but there is much to inspire. 

If I have a complaint, it's that the issue could do with one or two less articles to allow more space for the photos. They are all sharp and clear, but often reproduced in 5x4cm boxes with massive chunks of text alongside them, dominating the page. A few had me wanting to see more. 

That said, the editorial to advertising content is high - you get a lot for your £4.95. While I can't claim I'll be subscribing, I will be flicking through and picking up the odd issue as the civilian subjects given the full-fat modelling treatment suits me more than the guns'n'glory of the military magazines. If you see a copy on the shelf, I suggest you'll enjoy it too. 

Full details over on the Model Truck World website. 

 (Note: I bought this issue with my own cash - I'm a sucker for the first issue of model mags)

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Podcast: Garden Railways


Some Sunday listening for you -Railway Mania asked me back to talk about garden railways on their latest podcast. It took 3 1/2 hours to record this, but then we did spend an hour yakking before recording started!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Saturday Film Club: 1978 SEAB Flipper


 I do love a weird car, and if it's a microcar, so much the better.This odd beast ticks all the boxes, with the bonus of a very ingenious drive system that removes the need for a reverse gear!

Friday, March 12, 2021

It's the Big Virtual Show III this weekend!

Whatever you are doing this weekend - cancel it. We've put together yet another massive selection of layouts, interviews and fun for you. 

Head to: tomorrow morning, and don't leave until 4pm Sunday!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Garden Rail April 2021

April sees us putting the fun into garden railways. Mark and Donna Mitchell built the Glebe Valley Railway in just two years, and the line has taken on a life of its own with a daily story appearing on Facebook.

The joy continues as we meet four friends who have built Gauge One Midland 2P locomotives from Barrett Steam kits. Even a few burnt fingers didn't stop them enjoying the job.

We also build coaches, wagons and an engine shed, as well as proving you can radio control a locomotive for less than the price of a coffee.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Mock half-timber

There is a trend near where I live, for old bungalows to be bought, largely knocked down, and then turned into much bigger houses. Sadly, I suspect this one is due to be on the receiving end of the same treatment. 

That's a shame as I suspect it's quite old. The left hand end wall is brick with painted on "woodwork". The rest it rendered, so I assume is the same. 

I'm not quite sure why anyone would add the mock Tudor decoration to a house like this. It's seems a little dishonest, but then people did that sort of thing years ago. I'm sure this dates back as far as I remember, so several decades. Presumably, it was built this way. 

I know it has little architectural merit, but I'll still be sorry to see it go.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Weathering a tractor

For a weathering demonstration at this weekend's Virtual Exhibition, I need a dirty model. This 1:43 Lanz Bulldog from an old partwork was handy, so it was time to give it a work over. Why a Bulldog? Well, there is one in my novel...

Anyway, it's a really good model with loads of detail, so no construction work to do. Perfect for my purposes. 

The vinyl tyres came off after quite a fight, and the model was given a couple of coats of Testors Dullcote matt varnish. On it's own, this really improves the look of the model. I know collectors like things shiny, but they do look like toys. 

Dry-brushing the paintwork with some Humbrol 144 started the big improvements. While I was at it, some bit were given some Revell 9 (dirty black) such as the bottom half of that lump on the front. According to prototype picture, it shouldn't be body colour. A bit of rust colour added the same way helped too, especially on the exhaust and whatever the other sticky up thing is (air intake?). 

Finally, it was out with the Lifecolor Dust and Rust paint to splodge some rust around with a fairly stiff brush. I tried a sponge at first, but couldn't get it into the places I needed it. Rust was based on one of the few photos of a dirty prototype I could find - plenty of over-restored examples, few "in service" shots. 

Lots more rust around the back where the farmers boots will bash protective paint away. Photos show it creeping up the mudguards too, so the stiff brush did the job. 

There we go, a quick'n'dirty weathering job. There will be more, but that's for another day.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Billings Dana 200 rudder linkage


My dad is fiddling with a Billings Boats Dana 200 kit. He found it on a shelf and decided a little boat would make a change from bigger projects. 

Needless to say, I got roped in to help with the technical stuff, and of course, despite the kit being suitable for RC, according to the box, you are on your own trying to fit the stuff. 

Drive is easy, rudder less so. There's not a lot of space to fit everything so we had to build the rudder and post from the (static) wooden version and some brass tube. 

To rotate the rudder, I cut a 4BA thread in the top of the post and made an arm up from a bit of brass. This is soldered to the nut and the screwed on to the post. It's help in place with a drop of superglue on the top. 

The servo just squeezes under the deck and the whole thing is a bit tight. The linkage hooks through the arm, retained by a bent bit of wire fitted through a hole drilled in the fat wire. 

It all works though, so now I just need to wire the boat up. 

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Video: Making model hedges


Another of my BRMTV videos - this time making model hedges.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Saturday Film Club: Steam turbine TGV in Gauge 1


The story of the development of a Gauge 1, steam powered, tilting TGV. German with translations throughout. I don't claim to understand the technology, but it's fascinating.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Plastic trams

Dad's birthday - and I spotted that the Wythall Transport Museum shop eBay account had some of the Atlas Editions tram models for sale for a fiver each. Well, I couldn't think what to get him, and I rather like the look of them.

I'll confess, I've not carried out any research into these - so they may be horribly inaccurate, but neither of us is bothered, they just look so good. 

To be honest, if the partwork that these hail from re-appeared on the shelves, I suspect we'd sign up for it. We're not into foreign trams really, and don't need any more models, but how can you resist? All the models are HO scale, and moulded in plastic. This wasn't cheap to tool up.

Still, a present bought, and money gone to a good cause. Now, I wonder if we could build a very small transport museum, with a display of trams from around the world...