Monthly Archives: January 2014

BR Class 04 Diesel Tram at Speed: Day 3

So where were we? Oh yes, I remember… I was converting a Drewry Diesel Tram while filming the results (using time lapse recording). Here are the links to days 1 and 2.


Here is the video:

Day 3 consisted of replacing the rather small buffers on the Bachmann Class 04 with the slightly larger versions used on the tram version. The donor for these buffers was a disused set of buffer beams from my Heljan Falcon (blink and you will miss it in the first few seconds of the video). I then added some brake pipes and hand rails. I firstly fitted the plastic versions that came with the Bachmann model, but decided they were horridly over sized. I decided to cut them off so I could replace them with wire versions instead.

I also fitted the small exhaust on the bonnet. The 1950s tram I am building has an exhaust pipe that is barely visible. As I have not seen any aerial shots of the bonnet I have made a guess as to what this might have looked like. A taller cylinder was attached to the exhaust in the later part of the 1950s, and I did find a pipe in my ‘bits box’ that matched this perfectly, but I forced myself to refrain and stick to my plan for a tram without a full chimney.


I also noticed that the Bachmann version of the 04 has a step either side of the bonnet front that doesn’t appear to be present on the earlier tram types. I cut this off and added hand rails.

I finished off by filling in some of the gaps with model putty.

More to come in day 4….

Falling Behind: A Leader Story (Pt 3)

Following my last post about Leader, I discovered that the paint was not fully drying and the finish had warped while in storage.

It is difficult to find a paint stripper formulated to strip resin kits, they are normally designed for metal or plastic models. I sent a quick query to Howes of Oxford about their Model Strip and was advised to test the paint stripper on the underside of the body. I did not see any adverse effects, so I covered leader in the paste.



I left the model covered overnight and cleaned off the paste and paint with an old tooth brush.

I was very happy to see that most of the paint was removed. There was still some panel lines and crevices where paint remained so I decided to also try another paint stripper. My second attempt was with Phoenix Precision PS18 Superstrip and this stuff was quite amazing. I dipped my toothbrush in the liquid and on the first stroke of the brush, the remaining paint started coming off.

The picture below is the now fully stripped Leader body. There a couple of patches of paint that remain underneath. These are where glue was used to fix in the interior cabs. The next stage is a bit of degreasing before Leader’s return to the paint shop.



Repairing a Bachmann 03 Diesel Shunter


This British Rail Green diesel shunter belongs to my dad. He bought it from the Bachmann discount stand at Warley 2012. The motor seems to stall from time to time and I suggested I would have a look at it. Now 12 months have almost past, I think it is best I take a look.

I remember that the coupling rod appeared to be slightly bent on one of the rear cranks, so I suspected it could be an issue relating to the coupling rods jarring. After a quick run on the rolling road I whipped the body off.

The trickiest thing to do is to slide up the NEM couplings without breaking off the backing. The body screws are located beneath them. I have some special screw drivers designed to work with hexagonal bolts, which are very useful for removing coupling rods from RTR locos. Unfortunately, the pin that fixes in the crank at the back of the model isn’t hexagonal and won’t unscrew. Instead I removed the crank along with the coupling rod and used my ‘hold and fold’ tool to flatten the coupling rod back out. Stalling still seemed to be an issue, so I added a very thin washer beneath the crank to see if that would reduce the play in this area. In addition, I stretched out the pick-ups to increase contact with the wheels. As a final step I swapped around the front and rear axles and screwed the coupling rods back on.

I then set the shunter off at full speed on the rolling road, to see if this would remove any burrs that might be causing issues.

There have been no signs of stalling since. It was quite simple to create the stalling effect before the modifications, so maybe, just maybe I have sorted it out.

Workbench into action


Having spent a few days tidying away the mass of modelling tools, kits, materials and instructions that I have acquired over the years, I was finally able to make use of my workbench.

Its first use in the the new house was to run-in my new Dapol Western. This is limited edition model available exclusively from Kernow Model Rail Centre. The model is professionally weathered by Mercig Studios and is the best weathering job I have seen on a ready to run loco. It sounds like this will be the last Dapol Limited Edition to be commissioned for the foreseeable future so I am quite pleased that I pre-ordered one.

Here is another shot of the workbench including half-height bookcase and shelves. My wife has allowed me to use one of her Ikea wooden mini-drawer units, which is now full of tools. My soldering iron has pride of place on top of these shelves. I have a lot of projects that were on hold over 2013, due to the impending move, so now my workbench is back in action, I can get going. Happy days.


Early sketches of Brewery Pit


While organising my new modelling room I came across these early sketches of Brewery Pit. If I remember correctly, I got the original layout plan ideas from an issue of British Railway Modelling magazine and a feature on building a layout for £100 in Model Rail Magazine (back in 2006).

The final product is quite a close match to this early drawing . The passing loop at the rear of the model is included in the sketch along with the shed and private sidings. The main changes were that I couldn’t fit so many lines of track on the left side of the line and I instead, put two tracks into the shed.

Finding this sketch makes me think about my aims for Brewer Pit in 2014. I need to start putting some thought into how to finish off Brewery Pit, as I have given myself a 12 month deadline to make it exhibition worthy.

Rolling Stock – J70 0-6-0 Tram Engine

In this series of articles I will introduce the locomotives that I operate on Brewery Pit.


The Prototype
One of the main engines that see’s regular use is my J70 steam tram. The J70s were introduced to replace the ageing Y6s, and were famous for running on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway in Cambridgshire. J70s and Y6s look very similar from the outside, but are quite different underneath the tram body. The fundamental difference is that J70s have six wheels (0-6-0), while the Y6s have four wheels (0-4-0). The side skirts are also formed in a slightly different way, with the J70s including moulded foot steps (Y6s have ladder-like steps) and a curved lower section to the skirt.

The model
My model is made from a Silver Fox resin kit that was bought for my birthday in September 2006. I opened up the side windows using a knife and added hand rails. I decided that I wanted my steam tram to include a boiler, and I just happened to have a Dapol plastic pug kit lying around (many railway modellers do, for some reason). I cut up the boiler and mounted it onto a piece of plasticard and added some hand wheels to either end. The boiler isn’t accurate as it has a saddle water tank, but I didn’t really care at the time (and still don’t).




I wanted to represent an engine running between 1948 and 1950, so I purchased as many books as possible and looked at the photos of the various steam trams and settled on No. 68217, which was one of the last steam trams to run on the line.

I weathered the boiler using weather powders and sealed it with a matt varnish.


The tram was painted with a now discontinued shade of brown from Tamiya’s acrylic range (I think it was Tamiya, I can find out if anyone really needs to know).

The final weathering job shown in the pictures is not accurate to how the model now looks, as it was repainted to better fit in with my Y6 later on.

You cannot obtain a 0-6-0 chassis which would fit such a small loco, so there is little choice but to install and 0-4-0 power bogie. I was a little excited at the time I bought the kit and urgently insisted a black beetle motor bogie be sent out to me ASAP. Unfortunately, the wheelbase (distance between each wheel) of the bogie was quite wide, now I know that this is a skirted loco and little of the wheels is seen, but when it is seen it looked weird.

The motor bogie was converted to DCC control and was a poor runner and it was eventually replaced with better black beetle bogie with spoked wheels (a nice touch), a shorter wheelbase and 27:1 gearing (meaning it can travel much slower than my previous 15:1 version).

My J70 is currently waiting to have a DCC ‘stay-alive’ capacitor to be installed, but more on that some other time.


Falling Behind: A Leader Story (Pt2)


We now return to the development of my Golden Arrow resin and white metal kit of the pioneering Bulleid Leader (click here for part 1).

Leader’s bogies are gigantic, just massive. Leader looks like the monster truck of UK locomotives. These bogies are cast in white metal and have a very nice finish. They are also nice and weighty. While reading how to install the recommended DS10 motor I mis-interpreted the instructions and installed a separate DS10 motor into each bogie. In hindsight this wasn’t such a bad idea, as leader is now a real brute on the rails.

I followed the wheeling convention of some of Heljan’s diesels and put bearings around the front and rear axles on each bogie and left the middle wheel floating. This helps prevent the massive wheels from causing derailments.


I installed two Lenz silver decoders (one on each bogie) and programmed each to the same ID. Trial runs showed strong running qualities, but I did need to shave away some of the higher sections of the bogies to allow Leader to get around the tight corners on Brewery Pit. Having duel motors and picking up current from both bogies means that when Leader de-rails it has a propensity to continue to drive on with the derailed bogie, so one needs to be careful.

Leader often ran with all it’s vents and doors open, so I cut through the resin cast and opened up all the doors and vents. I also made some vent flaps out of plasticard. I then added hand rails and door knobs. Please note that most people fit the the vertical cab rails on the front of Leader in the wrong position. Most models have them mounted on the very front of the cab, but the prototype has them fitted to the sides and they bend around to the front. In my opinion this makes a big difference to the look of the loco. These hand rails were made from guitar string.

I also added lamp irons and a whistle. The flush glazing was hand cut from thick transparent plastic.

I then painted Leader with the softest silver-grey shade I could find. I used a Halfords car spray and I was very pleased with the results. I felt like I had sprayed the paint on a bit thick in places, so I decided to fix the paint with a satin gloss coat – fatal mistake!

The paint never fully dried and always retained a slight tackiness. I keep my models in a metal box surrounded by foam and I was concerned that the foam might mark the paint so I wrapped Leader with a thin bit of plastic wrapping. I then discovered that the paint was still slowly moving and the paint had formed moulding lines with the patterning of the plastic wrapping. I quickly sprung into action and scrubbed away the tacky areas of paint. My model of one of my favourite engines was sullied.

So at this stage these pictures are all I have of Leader in it’s (almost) final stage. A real shame.

The story continues…


Re-designing the workbench

Currently on my workbench is… well… my workbench.


The workbench I have used for the past few years is a cheapo laminated chipboard job from Argos. The former office desk was forced into the role of being my modelling desk when we moved to Newbury in 2008. It has now taken a fair amount of abuse from my modelling torture kit, so it is only right that it continues in its role in my new house (until I accidentally cut in half or something or other).

In my new house the desk will be up against a radiator and I already suffer frequent losses of small items to the carpet monster (that darn carpet monster!!!).  I was also quite concerned that I will now loose small items down into the inside of the radiator. I decided that I would install a backing to my desk that will hopefully prevent small items from ‘pinging’ away.

I purchased x3 framed cork note boards from Staples and went about screwing them onto the back of the desk. Being lazy, I decided to screw them onto brackets and let the boards hang off the desk (as oppose to cutting the boards and mounting them on the top of the desk). There was still an annoying gap between the cork boards and the desk when they were screwed down so I tacked down some white ‘L’ shaped plastic to cover up the gap.


Now I will hopefully see a significant reduction in my time spent crawling under my desk looking for small brass bearings. The added bonus is that I can now use the cork to pin up instructions and notes, which will be very helpful.


The Housing Crash

I have recently completed my big move from a one bedroom flat in Newbury to a three bedroom house in Swindon.

Moving is never fun and I tried hard to ensure that Brewery Pit could be transported safely. I can’t fit the layout in my car so I allowed the removal people to take it in their truck (after having removed all of the buildings).


Unfortunately, there was a disaster involving the housing estate, which suffered a scale 200 m drop to it’s death. All of the buildings made from Linka casts were destroyed, but the Bachmann ready-to-plant ones survived. Ironically it wasn’t the removal people that did the damage but me leaving the estate precariously on top of a wardrobe (I should have known what was going to happen).

This is a shame, but I was considering changing the Linka cast houses for better models, so maybe it is a blessing in disguise.