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Update Pages - May to August 2012




This Bachmann Scenecraft bank building forms an ideal basis for part of the back scene. It needed to be shortened, so I decided to remove the section with the cash machine, as it doesn't really fit in with the earlier era. It's a dirty and dusty job with a cutting disc, so safety precautions need to be taken, and preferrably outside on a windy day! I've found cutting with a hacksaw or similar always results in the blade sticking in the resin, so the Dremmel is the easier quicker option.

Glued back together and reinforced. Gable ends and a roof have been fabricated from plasticard, and the brickwork given a blast with Humbrol matt brown aerosol.

The roofline is enhanced by the addition of some chimneys, and a start has been made on the brickwork with a thin wash of paint to enhance the detail. There's still some more detailing and weathering required to finish it off, and then it can be planted in the high street.



With Morfa Bank under wraps for a year due to a house move, I decided to jump in at the deep end to get back into modelling - four Secmafer Boyer Schwartz single track relaying gantries as loads for four Lowmacs, but with no drawings everything had to be done by eye! Here we see the initial structures.

First up were the sides in 15 & 20 thou sheet. All guessed from the only good photos - courtesy of Paul Bartlett's fantastic archive.

The sides are going on and test fitted to the Lowmac to check clearances. These M8s (or M6s?!) were first up.

By now the basic cladding is on and some of the many panels fitted. At this point I realised this was not going to be a quick job!

With 'wheels' from cut down pipe flanges and lights from old sprue the details are starting to go on. Thankfully they both sat square to the table.

The track-lifting frames have been built and the handrails and operating levers fitted. Slightly fiddly but worth the effort.

Now painted and weathered the first of the many hydraulic hoses have been fitted to the nearest example. More weathering on the rams will be added once all the hoses are fitted. Still work to do on the wagons and once these two are finished it's onto the very different (and more complex!) M9 versions...



The BRCW class 104 has recently been through the workshops for upgrading of the corridor connections and other small detail enhancements such as buffers and closer coupling of the vehicles.

All my units were previously fitted with black card on one vehicle end only, and now a thinner paper material is used and fitted to both vehicles (between Lima corridor connections). This arrangement allows better flexibility with other units, allowing them to be mixed and matched with each other in any configuration and orientation.

This view shows the original DMCL conversion in grey primer. The 4-car project was carried out a few years ago, based on the Hornby class 110 DMU, and I'm now planning another class 104 (Longsight based 2-car DMBS+DTS).... Watch this space.

A view showing the new paper corridor connections on the class 124 DMU, and in the background the original configuration of black card on one vehicle of the class 108 DMU.



A 2-EPB unit is seen about to disappear under the road bridge. Recent work on 'LP' includes the laying of third rail. Looking at the EPB in the pose is firing me up to get the layout operational, although a fair way to go yet...... I’m kinda liking 3rd rail now!

The insulators are part of the Peco Individulay range, and used with code 55 flatbottom rail.

The insulators have been picked out in a greyish grime colour, and there are some rail joiners to add as well. Next on the 'to do' list is to put down some grime on the ground under the bridge area, then paint and weather said bridge. Completion of the ballasting on the 3rd rail branch-line can then take place.



Construction of the old dock road has continued this month. For some of the length it borders one of the run-round loop tracks, and also sees use as a loading area. To get a good match up to the rails this section has been built in-situ, laid on a foundation layer of plain plasticard glued and bolted to the baseboard.

To provide some relief from trimming and fitting cobbles a start has been made on the single track rail overbridge, as shown in this general view. The structure has two identical spans, one over the yard entrance track and headshunt, and the other across the old access road.

Although similar in concept to the overbridge on Canada Road, an effort is again being made to improve the authenticity of the structure. The four plate girders are an adaptation of the Wills ‘Vari-Girder’ parts, modelled to include details seen on various railway bridges around the Glasgow and Grangemouth areas.

Underside view showing the cross-members which have been added using Evergreen 4mm I-beam section. The bridge abutments are made from 80 thou plasticard, and will be faced with Slaters English bond brick texture. Cutting 80 thou sheet can be a bit of a chore and needs a good sharp blade, but makes for a robust structure when completed with internal bracing.




This shows the finished bridge support made from styrene sections from the Evergreen range, and mounted onto a plinth box section made from 40 thou styrene sheet, with Slaters brick plastic card sheet laminated around its base. I have used Humbrol Matt enamel paints, and other oil based paints from both Tamiya, and the Modelmaster range for the base colours and the weathered effects. Some of these brands were also mixed together to provide the colours needed.

With the underside of the bridge almost finished, attention has now turned to the road surface, pavements and markings. The road has been painted and allowed to dry over a couple of days, before masking and painting the lines.

Ratio spear fencing has been installed on the retaining wall, and buses posed around the station area.



The recent good weather has seen slow progress on the new layout. The overbridge now has most of the brickwork applied, with some capping stones still required before the painting stage can begin. It is posed here showing its construction from styrene sheet materials, and will form part of the scenic break at the fiddle-yard end of the layout.



For some time now I have been looking at the options available for building a 3-car class 501 EMU. Having recently acquired 2 bodyshells for the Bachmann 2-EPB model, this has made the decision easier, and they can be adapted to fit on a standard 57ft mark 1 underframe. This view shows the 2 bodyshells stripped of their fittings and glazing, alongside a powered vehicle which will provide the traction once the underframe is shortened.

The centre car is the easiest conversion - chopping off the driving cab to shorten the body to 9 compartments, ready for a blank end to be fitted.

The 2 driving vehicles have sections cut from the middle of the body, using the compartment doors as cutting guides. In effect, 1/3rd of one compartment, and 2/3rds of the adjacent compartment have been removed, and the body spliced back together. The separate roof sections have also been shortened, with the surgery taking place further along and away from the bodyside cuts.

With the major body alterations completed, attention can now turn to detailing the cab fronts, and fitting the window bars to the compartment doors, which was a prominent feature of these units.




Construction of the new overbridge has been completed and it is pictured here before painting begins.

The next scenic feature to be started is the dockside wall. This uses a combination of scribed 60 thou sheet and one of the Wills stone textures. The two sections are cut to fit together jigsaw fashion.

A length of the wall nearing completion. A radius edge has yet to be added at the top corner, but otherwise this section is about finished.

The inspiration for the stonework patterning being modelled is to be found within Birkenhead docks.

Canada Road’s recent appearance at Railex 2012 gave an opportunity for a few pictures. The dark satanic mills of the scenic break, as seen from the overbridge shown in this detail. These were scratchbuilt using mainly Slaters and Scalelink products.

One of the more unusual visiting wagons spotted during the weekend was B870077, a conversion of a Dia 1/250 10T Meat Van. The van has had the side ventilation grills removed after transfer to general traffic, and only the four end vents reveal its origins. The model is based on the Parkside 12T Plank-side Van kit, with end panels by Airfix.

A type which makes occasional visits to the sidings are the BR Class 52 ‘Western’ locomotives. Here is a cabside close-up of D1059 ‘Western Empire’ - perhaps making it hard to believe this is only to 4mm scale. The model is based on the Heljan product, with some enhanced detailing added.



With the use of a simple jig, the 138 window bars are shown being cut from 0.33mm nickel-silver wire (for the 46 doors).

Three bars are fitted to the door window and held in place with some blu-tac, whilst another jig is made to help locate the bars - made from plasticard with razor sawed slots.

With the jig holding the bars in place, a small amount of super glue is run around the ends of the bars where they make contact with the door edge..... wait a while and release the jig. I find that bottle tops are good disposable containers for super glue, conveniently propped up (with another blob of blu-tac underneath to pool the liquid and stop it sliding around the bench), and a cocktail stick or piece of fine wire to apply the glue - only another 40 doors to do!

Doors finished on one side, with the ends of the bars painted rail blue to hide any super glue residue and to strengthen the bond. At this stage various 57ft chassis were looked at for the DTBS (nearest) and the TS (centre). Although the Bachmann BG is good for the job it, would require extensive modifications for the body interface, and need door steps fabricating for the full length of the coach. The centre vehicle is sitting on a Bachmann suburban compartment coach chassis, and this seems the favourite choice as the body sits well and the steps are already in place.

Underside of shortened die-cast chassis with EM gauge trailing bogie fitted.

The conversion to EM gauge is fairly straightforward. Cutting off and removing the pressed brass pinpoint bearings (indicated by upper arrows), allows a standard length axle to be fitted and a short piece of brass wire can be soldered to the existing pickup assembly (still utilising the Bachmann PCB contact method). The powered bogie parts are dismantled, and the nylon gear drilled out 1.98mm (using 2mm drill) so it's a good tight fit on the replacement axle. Jackson Romford 14mm wheelsets are used as standard, with the pinpoints cut off to length and chamfered so they fit nicely into the bogie frame (indicated by lower arrows).

Showing the wire pick-ups in gentle contact with the solid brass wheels on the trailing bogie. The powered bogie pick-ups are retained, and bent carefully upwards so they clear the axle centre boss and make good contact with the back of the wheel. A new set of 00 gauge Jackson Romfords can be seen centre, showing what they look like when out of the box, and ready for re-gauging and fitting to the other 2 trailing vehicles.

Going back to the bodies - roof detail is added in the shape of some MJT white-metal vents, vehicle numbers applied, and the inner and outer ends fitted with jumper cables, receptacles and other detail. The single jumper on the front of the unit is a Hornby class 50 MU fitting, with all the other parts being made up from bits of plastic and small diameter wire.

The 3 bodies are just about complete now, with glazing and destination blind still to fit. They are seen here perched on their respective chassis - nearest is DMBS on shortened Bachmann die-cast powered chassis, and the TS and DTBS on suburban 57ft underframes with fittings removed.




The latest item of rolling stock for Hartburn is an ex-GWR horsebox which made its debut at the recent Hucclecote (Gloucester) model railway exhibition. During the early 1960s a number of these pre-nationalisation horse boxes were downgraded for calf traffic and it is this condition that the model represents, albeit without the "CALF BOX" branding.

The base model is the recent Hornby release, a very fine model indeed with the most detailed underframe I have seen on an RTR wagon. The weathering was based on a photograph in the Cheona publication on non-passenger carrying stock, with the distressing carried out using a fibre-glass pen.

With 5 exhibitions under its belt so far, one of the things that I found was if a train was stopped when coming out of the right hand fiddle-yard to drop a wagon into the coal siding, half of the train was still in the fiddle-yard. This half-in / half-out moment didn't look good as it highlighted the mouse-hole in the backscene. It was felt it would be much improved if that scenic section were extended. Much thought was given as to how best to go about this. The existing fiddle-yard board was made up of a short scenic section before running through the mousehole to a sector plate. It was decided to remove the sector plate and make that entire board scenic and built a completely new fiddle yard to go on the end.

Given time constraints and exhibition commitments, I decided to break the work into two. In order that I could appear at the Hucclecote show, the build of the new fiddle-yard was contracted to Elite Baseboards ( so that it would be ready just after that show. Opportunity was taken to use a traverser rather than a sector plate and the guys at EB did a cracking job.

Once the Hucclecote show was out of the way, work could begin converting the existing fiddle-yard to a scenic board.

A close up 69016 on the new scenic section.

The track was laid and wired over the weekend of the 21/22nd July. Having tested out ok, the ballast was laid and fixed with car laquer. It will certainly be a busy period over the next few weeks as the layout's next outing is at North Shields.



Work on the dockside wall has continued with the addition of the rounded top edge and linking up of the scribed joint lines. To ensure a consistent edge radius a simple gauge was made from a scrap piece of plastic…..and labelled so it didn’t get thrown away by mistake!

The completed wall section for board 5, ready for painting.

With the wall about done, a start has been made on the dockside loading facility. This follows my normal method of a strong plastic framework to which smaller details and textures are added. Corrugated sheet cladding will be applied to the walls and roof of the basic structure once it is finished.

This detail view shows the extra internal bracing at one end. Since the structure will be removable on the completed layout it stands a chance of being dropped, so I’ve attempted to make it fairly bomb-proof using 2,5mm (100 thou) sheet.



General view of the workbench with a few different projects on the go... a kettle, 2 Dapol class 22 NBL diesel hydraulic locos, and a Lowmac plastic kit (out of view).

The green class 22 shown with the valences fixed to the bodyside, and some initial weathering carried out.

New acquisitions on the shelf, with some HO scale Australian wagons on the adjacent siding. The Deltics are one of my favourite British locos, but not really suitable for Lesney Park. So all in all quite an eclectic mix of projects, and that's without mention of the aircraft!

Here is the Lowmac with some paint having been applied. I think I will detail the wagon even further with separate chain securing rings.

Turning to the layout itself - the sector plate is being finished off with completion of the rails and copper-clad sleepers......

..... whilst work continues with point building on the scenic area. This is the yard, showing the branch line on the left which will be hidden, and allow a shuttle service to run between here and the station.

January to April 2012
  September to December 2012