Enjoying the Hobby

Apologies for the rather ‘basic’ title of this blog, but it sums up how I’m feeling at the point.

I have now finished the landscaping on the other board that runs behind the railway. I’m rather pleased with the results from this, which was probably the hardest task landscape wise.



The landscaping in front of the layout will be catered for once the electrics are done, the priority with the rear being finished was because of the painting of the backscene.

Today I was demonstrating wagon building and weathering at ‘Thirsk Model Railway Exhibition’. It was an enjoyable day meeting new people and seeing friends. Good banter was had all around with Ian Fleming, Ken Gibbons and Jonathan Wealleans, who was showing his beautiful LNER coaches and wagons.


Jonathan also had a couple of items for me, two corridor Collett Coaches he had built and painted for me as a part of some ‘horse trading’. One is an E152 Brake Composite which will be permanently coupled to a Hornby all 3rd. I’ve a photo of these two seen at Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1951, with the all 3rd still in Chocolate and Cream, a nice contrast!


The E128 will be run on it’s own, as a mixed train or possibly joined to another Hornby all 3rd (in crimson and cream).


In the meantime, I really better look into making a start on wiring the layout, just so I can run something up and down. Once happy with this, I will complete the points and get those wired too. I also have the fiddle yard boards on the way, so hopefully in the not to distant future (by late October I hope) I will be able to run the layout properly.



Vintage LMS


I’ve said it before, but I do have a thing for LMS Vans. The high sides and shallow roof profile make for a distinctive looking van. These two are both kits from  Cambrian Models.

Both of these van’s represent slightly older variants of rolling stock, than the more common ratio van diagram.


First up is a D1676. These vans were built from 1924-1928, with 2956 examples being built. The vans were built as fitted and unfitted, but after finding a nice early 50’s photo in Geoff Kent’s 4mm Wagon Book 2, I went with unfitted. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a good example of an older van, but it’s heritage is undeniable.


The second van is a D1832A which are from a slightly later period than the previous van, batches being being built in 1929-1930 and 1930-1931. The actual sides (other than the corrugation) are pretty similar to D1676 and the same as unventilated D1663, which makes commercial sense as production models (I’ve a D1676 to also finish, but in bauxite).

Both caused a little bit of a headache after building, with both developing a wobble. Thankfully I found out it wasn’t something I had done, but down to a case of a poor batch of markits wheels. The vans suffered from roofs too short for the model (they only just reached the ends) so I added microstrip to give the vans their overhang.

They have been finished with Lanarkshire Models buffers and torpedo vents. The coupling hook and links are from AMBIS Engineering.

Regarding painting, I took a different route after talking to Geoff Kent at Scale Four North. A number of Geoff’s unfitted wagons are painted a lighter shade of grey which I found  to be Railmatch’s ‘late grey’. I did discover however that the grey came off with white spirits very easily, even with a coat of Klear on top and after 3 weeks drying time, therefore both vans had two spray coats of Gameworkshop ‘purity seal’ once the transfers were in place.

Prior to weathering I painted over a couple of planks with the same grey, but it has given a nice change of tone on several of the planks. Weathering was done in my usual way, several washes over the body, building up and taking away in places. The chassis is a mix of Matt Black and Revell 84 which was finished off with a touch of powder work. Roofs were painted a mix of Matt Black, Metalcote Gunmetal and a touch of Revell 76 Grey. They were finished with powders to give a good textural finish.

My attention now turns to a couple of Parkside exLNER  vans to finish, which with the two LMS vans will form part of my demonstration at Thirsk Model Railway Exhibition at Thirsk Town Hall, 31st July.

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First Train of the Day

Ok, the bleak whiteness does make it look like it’s still been snowing up their since Christmas!

The bufferstop has now been made, and the siding partially laid.

At 7.17am, 4645 passes the former loop, now siding….with the 6.45am off Bala, due at Blaenau Ffestiniog, 8.36am.


Mineral Wagons – Part 2 ‘BR 16T’

Over the past week, my hobby time has been spent working on the Bachmann BR 16T I repainted in my last update. This was a project I had initially been dreading, as steel bodied 16Ts have a particular look, and many models I’ve seen just do not look right.

When it came to adding the ‘rust effect’ I did keep going back to  Ian (windcutter) Fleming to see what he thought, who offered suggestions and advice which I appreciate. On something like this, I think it’s always good to have another set of eyes on the project.

Several days later, and here are the results.



The chassis was treated with a mix of Revell 84 and Matt Black (another tip picked up from Ian’s blog). Further treatment with powders made the finishing touches to the chassis. The interior was painted with the same paint mix as the chassis, before being finished with powders which has given a rather pleasing effect. I didn’t feel the need for the airbrush and I feel it’s always good to broaden ones techniques.


I am aware that the Brake push rods have been fitted the wrong way around, something Bachmann seem to have a habit of doing. It’s not the only Bachmann model I’ve seen in my fleet that has also been fitted the wrong way around. I had looked to swopping them around, but sadly they are only detailed on one side. For the moment they will stay and will be possibly be replaced at a later date.

As a conclusion, I think the most important aspect of this weathering project was preparation. I’d spent some time thinking how I was going to approach this wagon, consulted modelling friends, prototype photographs and Geoff Kent’s excellent volumes on 4mm wagons.

I also took the opportunity of good sun light (yes I know…don’t fall off your chair at that prospect) to photograph 7428 outdoors, still very pleased with the finish on her.


I’m near to finishing work for Easter, so I’m looking forward to starting work on a 1950’s ex PO. York Show next weekend where I will be stewarding and a trip down to the Llangollen for their Spring Gala. Plenty to look forward to!

Cheers for now!

Prysor for Christmas

Good tidings to all at this festive time of year. In the last couple of days I’ve been preparing the work room for the arrival of the layout. Tim Horn has worked exceptionally hard to bring my rough ideas into reality. From here, the real work can begin on turing this into an operational layout, with the eventual goal of having the layout on the exhibition circuit, however I intend to take my time with this, I see no need to rush this project.



In the meantime, I’ve been working on another 74XX. This one is somewhat special in that 7428 retained her GWR livery until withdrawal on the 31/10/1962. Although she retained the livery, the photos I have show her in typical Croes Newydd condition (filthy), although the Great Western Railway initials are still very prominent (I read that shed staff highlighted it with chalk over the years).  As this started life as a Bachmann GWR 64XX, it didn’t have a smokebox numberplate, so I made one from some 10thou plasticard.

Weathering was done using several reference colour photographs, and the effect I feel works well, with the green livery slightly hinted at ‘just’ under the grime.





To finish the scene, Modelu‘s figures bring the whole thing to life. You may notice the lamp missing from along the running plate, the reason for this is I will testing some prototypes of Modelu’s 3D printed lamps in the next few weeks.

Those that follow this blog and are interested in these Pannier tanks, may like to know that the Railway Modeller article on the subject of my 74XX conversion, will be in (I believe) the February issue.

Finally I’d just like to wish the followers of tfmodelling, a Very Merry Christmas, and all the best for the New Year.

Best Wishes


Playing trains in Wonderful Wales

I have just spent a lovely few days in Wales, as a mini Birthday Holiday. The plan was to spend some time doing some location searching regarding the Blaenau Branch, but most importantly to visit and operate Geoff Taylor’s layout, Barmouth Junction.

Weather was awful on the journey over on Wednesday, with thick flog surrounding Cwm Prysor and Trawsfynydd, so I headed south towards my accommodation and a visit to Alan Buttler’s ‘Modelu’ workshop. It was truly fascinating seeing how the 3D printing process works. Alan also offered me a non stop tour of what remains of the Mid Wales Branch and Moat Lane Junction…with a grand finale being the view of the Clywedog Reservoir, the building of which was the last duty the Mid Wales line performed before closure.


Thursday came, and I awoke early to meet my friend Simon, as we headed off to operate Geoff Taylor’s ‘Barmouth Junction’. Before we move onto the layout, I have to say what excellent hosts Geoff and Sharon were, looking after us from arrival until departure (hope we didn’t eat you out of house and home!)

The layout really is something else, ingeniously designed with simply beautiful modelling. The start is ‘Dolgellau Sidings’ which I operated under Alan’s careful eye (as well as Barmouth Fiddleyard). This area is still being worked on by Geoff but it’s not hard to be able to tell what part of the country you are supposed to be viewing.


4585 is seen shunting in Dolgellau Sidings. © Alan Buttler

From here we move onto Penmaenpool Station itself. I have visited the real location many times, most recently last month with my Father. Looking at the model, and you feel like you are there….60 years ago.



A Collett Goods gets the right away with a train bound for Bala and Ruabon. © Alan Buttler


My Croes Newydd 7414 sits on Penmaenpool Shed, awaiting a return working to Bala.


Another of my locos, 4645 works a local Pickup Goods along the shore of the Mawddach Estuary © Alan Buttler

Finally we arrive at Barmouth Junction itself, where the Llangollen line meets the Cambrian Coast line. There is so much for the eye to take in, with the estuary in view behind the station.


An interesting move in the operation sequence, was seeing locos head off scene with a train to Barmouth, before seeing the loco return a few minutes later to turn on the triangle (which can be seen in the photo above).


Dukedog number 9000 is seen at Barmouth Junction while being turned on the triangle. ©Alan Buttler

It was a truly enjoyable day, and if I had any doubts about moving to DCC, they had gone by the time I had operated my first train. The lenz LH90 controller was comfortable to hold and would be simple to use at a show with Cwm Prysor.

Friday’s journey home took me back through the heart of Snowdonia. With the weather not as foggy, I stopped just East of Trawsfynydd to do some location spotting. I shall post more on this tomorrow, but it involves the idea of a ‘Modular Layout’ which in essence, will allow extended boards to Cwm Prysor.


Box Vans

Simple title, for a far than simple subject.

Currently working through weathering wagon stock, first up is a ratio LMS unfitted Van (my first wagon kit too). It was rather a straight forward kit to go together. I must admit I’m particularly pleased with this one, as the RTR equivalent dimensionally incorrect (It’s part of the Bachmann range, but ex mainline and is far too squat.



Next up is a slightly modified Bachmann BR standard 12T Van. This is the ply bodied version. The first thing I added was the tie bars (using L strip) before removing the rain strips. Ian Fleming had pointed out that a number of the ply bodied vans had the three strip version, rather than the curved rain strip and suggested I have a look in Geoff Kent’s Book 2 of the 4mm Wagon. Using a scalpel I removed the moulded rain strip, cleaned up with some wet and dry before replacing with microstrip. Finally I added instanter couplings (was all BR stock fitted with instanters?

Last night and this morning I weathered the van, using as many reference photos as possible.




They are now all set for my demonstration stand at Expo Thirsk. Sunday 26th July, Thirsk Towh Hall 10.30am – 4.30pm

£4, child & OAP £2 Family £10, 14 layouts, demos and traders.