Monday 26 February 2024

Finishing Touches for Number 6

Work progresses on the FK3D Motor Rail 'Simplex', firstly with a little weathering... 

Initially I focussed on the underframe, where I first sprayed with Humbrol matt varnish before starting the weathering itself. To achieve this relatively easily I used post-it notes to mask off the bodywork during the spraying. This gave a much flatter base to work the weathering into, including colour washes, dry-brushing and a few oily/wet patches. On the bodywork some lighter blue was dry-brushed around the body edges to give a lightly-worn effect and weathering applied to the grilles, chimney/exhaust and air tank on the bonnet top. 

Once I was happy with the weathering I glued the driver into place using the pin in his posterior in the hole drilled into the seat support, having to clamp him down whilst the glue dried as otherwise he did not sit into the seat properly. Unfortunately his feet don't quite touch the floor but I'm not sure what I can do about that! The cab roof was then glued in place and again had to be clamped as it had a slight bow to it. 

At this stage I had thought I was finished but having revisited David Malton's drawing in the Railway Modeller I realised that 'Druid' retained the Motor Rail handrail at the bonnet end despite there being nowhere for someone to really stand and hold on for dear life! I therefore fabricated one from 0.9mm brass wire and soldered it together in an improvised jig.

After cleaning up the soldered joints the handrail was blackened and then painted to a faded black finish and sealed with matt varnish, before carefully gluing in place into two carefully pre-drilled holes on the front footplate.

Photography of the completed loco on the mini-diorama and 'The Headshunt' shows how well the Kato chassis vanishes into the murk in layout conditions. I believe taking the skirting away from the base of the print has really made a difference in this area. However, the finished loco is currently residing in the display cabinet on a shelf at eye level, where the chassis is all too conspicuous...


Saturday 17 February 2024

Simplex Number 6

Since I last posted about the FK3D 'Druid' print a couple of weeks ago I've been busy with the paintbrushes and masking tape and the result is an LCLR-style Simplex. One of the downsides of the (almost) all-in-one print is that delicate masking is required between the underframe and the bonnet/cab areas to get a neat result, but well worth the effort. 

The blue is Citadel Lothern blue as used on my 009 LCLR coach and loco, applied in three coats with the paint thinned as required to help alleviate brush marks. The red and black from Vallejo, the latter reduced in blackness with a spot of WW1 beige. The whistle was picked out in Vallejo brass whilst the printed oval plates on the cab sides and rear, which had troubled me at first, were painted black with white boltheads to complement the numbering, taken from a Replica Railways 4mm scale 'Rail Express Systems' rub-down sheet. Number 6 reflects the running number of 'Druid' at the ALR, despite this being a freelance interpretation.

The cab interior was treated with a coat of thinned black-grey and then various items were picked out in different colours. This was actually quite tricky to reach some of the features. The driver figure is the Monty's 'Industrial Driver' figure that I had prepared for the O9 railcar last year but didn't use as he was slightly on the tall side. A length of 1mm brass wire was Araldited in a hole drilled in his posterior and a corresponding hole drilled down the seat support to accept it. Milliput was used to add some "shape" to fill the bucket seat in the cab (Thinking about it, I may have flattened out his original shape for the railbus project...).

The driver has had a touch-in on the original paint job and a waft of Humbrol matt varnish. The loco itself has had a coat of Halfords matt varnish but is actually quite satin. I'm hoping this can be knocked back with some careful weathering and since taking the photos I started this process by masking the bodywork with post-it notes and spraying the Humbrol matt varnish over the underframe, which has the immediate effect of knocking back the shine.



Thursday 1 February 2024

A Simple Simplex

The FK3D 'Druid' print has been selected as my next O9 project and outwardly it really did not need much work as it stood, just the removal of the support struts in the cab openings. However to add a touch of individuality I opted to remove the skirting under the underframe and around the axleboxes by a combination of cutting an drilling. A fine razor saw was used to make 6 cuts on each side, behind each re-railing bar and either side of the axleboxes. I then scored along the top edge with a craft knife and drilled out a series of holes to weaken the skirt. With a pair of pliers I could then cleanly remove the excess and clean up the edges using an emery board files and wet and dry sandpaper. 

Whilst this approach reveals a lot more of the Kato 11-109 chassis I feel it also makes the loco look a lot better when sat on the track, as the rails are visible and it looks less like it is hovering. The fuel tank and ladder on the side of the Kato chassis have been cut away to make it less obvious at a casual glance.

The only other change I have made is to strengthen the top edges of the cab sides with a length of 0.5mm handrail wire formed into a long 'U' section between the ends, just visible here after primer had been applied. The fine cab detail of the print is clearly visible, I have adapted a driver figure but he is being camera-shy at the moment. 

The print has had an initial coat of plastic primer followed by a rub down, a small amount of filling on the cab front to hide a print line and then a second coat of grey primer. It really has been that simple. The intention is to use a Lincolnshire Coast LR style light blue livery, I've always felt that 'Druid' had a lot in common with the LCLR style!

More soon...


Saturday 20 January 2024

Future Echoes

It's been a quiet few weeks since I posted at Christmas, and it does seem a bit late to be wishing readers a Happy New Year!

I have spent a little time recently considering "what next?" and "what's achievable?" There are various thoughts at play and despite the appeal of something that the Shifting Sands stock can run on, another part of me wants to push in a different direction. I've always struggled with non-miniature railway O9, but I may now have a helping hand... my dad wasn’t sure what else to buy me for Christmas and I was out of ideas, so this was a complete surprise on Christmas day. I thought “that's too light to be a mug” when I was passed the almost square box...

This is  3D print from FK3D based on the 2ft gauge Abbey Light Railway's Simplex rebuild 'Druid' to fit a Kato 11-109 chassis. It is certainly not to miniature railway proportions but very believable as an 18" gauge locomotive. 

The irony was that I had actually asked for a FK3D print from my sister, who I wouldn’t see after Christmas. I was relieved it was not the same print, although I suppose there is no limit to how many of these you might want and potential variations thereof...  

So a few days later I opened up this little Lister, a very finely detailed print that will require careful painting. I was contemplating adding it to the 15" gauge fleet as a companion to the railcar on a slightly crazy micro layout scheme, but the arrival of the Simplex has meant that I am presently working through a few ideas for something else... 

There's not a lot of modelling underway at present, the Leyland National is slowly heading through the paint shop, currently in reverse, but in a few idle moments I have been working on a driver figure for the Simplex, but he's being photo-shy for now!


Sunday 24 December 2023

The Lady and the Lamp - Christmas Tree Halt

It's that time of year again to defrost the pizza and have some 009 Christmas fun. As usual the Minitrains Bagnall 'Isla' is in charge of getting the presents to Santa in time.

I always like to add something new to the scene each year and this year I have added a Lady, and a Lamp. I've always thought there should be a hopeful passenger on the platform, awaiting the train into town for some last minute shopping, so we now have Mrs Goggins, a Dapol figure painted in Christmassy greens and reds to match the colour palette of the scene. lamp standard, one of the standard Merit/Modelscene ones with a frosty finish (over-sprayed matt varnish) and plenty of snow-mix to blend it in. 

The gas lamp is one of the standard Merit/Modelscene ones with a frosty finish, created using over-sprayed matt varnish and plenty of snow-mix to blend it in around the base and on the flat surfaces. After some debate about whether there should be snow on the top if it heats up, there is a fine layer and we have to assume it has snowed since it cooled down.

I had a crazy idea the other day to paint the Snailbeach hopper in blue lettered for the North Pole Snow Co. - I might have to lay off the cheese over Christmas! 

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas.


Thursday 30 November 2023

Teenage Kicks

Another adventure in time, but on this occasion a trip revisiting my own past. Late 1991/early 1992 I built my first model bus kit, a Tower Models Leyland National. Finished in my own ivory/red/grey livery it was the first of many, forming the initial backbone of a contemporary model fleet and membership of the Model Bus Federation. Those days are long gone but when Peco re-released the kit a few years ago my interest grew and I bought the kit in the Bure Valley Model Shop on our Norfolk holiday in 2019. 

As I am still between railway projects I thought it would make an interesting follow-up to the Peco Police Box build. It hasn't all been plain sailing but that is largely "me" issues rather than anything to do with the kit. In many ways the kit is quite basic but with a few adjustments it can be improved to a satisfactory standard. The main changes I have made have been to the front end, wheels and to detail the interior.

Past experience had taught me to ignore the instructions, which say to build from the floor up, and to build from the roof down with the interior units fitted from below after painting. This allows much better joining of the ends to the roof. Front end improvements have involved taking a 1mm strip from above the bumper, opening out the windscreen at either side (which will require a new screen to replace that supplied) and rounding the corners of the destination and cove panels with tiny fillets of Milliput to better represent the prototype. I have also chosen to build the model as a 'B Series' example with no roof pod and the 9 small vents on the front and nearside, all formed from tiny strips of 5 thou styrene.

On the offside I have added the fuel filler in a recess midway along the side and the footstep cutout below the emergency door. On both sides I scribed in the flap in the lower fairing behind the rear wheelarch. The wheels caused some head scratching as the kit originals that sufficed in my teenage years no longer made the mark, luckily I had a set of ABS Models Leyland wheels to hand that had lived under a modified Dinky "Yellow Pages" Atlantean (another type that formed the backbone of my model fleet). They aren't perfect but will do until/if I can source anything more accurate. I've added a very slight steer to the front axle for realism.

The interior has seen the most work. As supplied this is quite basic and many of the seats featured blowouts in the moulding. I have added a step in the doorway, correctly raised drivers seat and scratchbuilt cab detail, a nearside luggage rack, offside longditudinal seat, handrails on all standard seat backs from staples and styrene strip and modesty screens in front of the raised seating area. Several online photos were used to get these details looking correct. There are also two glass screens to add behind the driver and in front of the luggage rack, made from clear 40 thou styrene to be added after painting. Just visible in this shot are the mud flaps I have added under the floor from 20 thou styrene.

I am happy with how this project has progressed after several frustrations, the next step will be to paint everything, which may take a little longer!


Thursday 23 November 2023


23rd November 1963, Gerry and the Pacemakers are in their final week at number one with 'You'll Never Walk Alone' (to be deposed by The Beatles the following week), US President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas dominates the headlines and on BBC1, an old man enters a blue box and an adventure begins...

Happy 60th Anniversary Doctor Who!