The inspiration for my model…
Modelling departmental stock has become increasingly popular over the last few years with a number of ready to run models being available in OO and N gauges. Even O gauge manufacturer Darstead plans to release its BG coach in departmental olive green as well as another version in yellow and black chevron livery similar to the prototype model shown above.
Modelling the O gauge examples is a challenge, not least because the donor coaches are somewhat expensive. There was no way I was going to base a model around a Heljan coach and Easy Build coaches (despite being excellent) would require a lot of work and cost.
So I looked to the old Lima Mk1 coaches. There are a number of these still available on sites such as eBay. These coaches have some crude fictitious bogies and moulded detail, however, a wide range of parts are available for modellers to replace the poor bogies and buffers. In addition to this, I have sourced new T handles, Tordpedo roof vents and couplings. All the handles have been sanded away and I will be replacing these with wire handles.
I will be filling some windows and cutting larger doors out of the coaches. These will eventually been painted with Railmatch yellow paint and given Fox Transfer decals.
Here are some pictures of the work so far.
14 June 2018 – Progress Report
Last weekend I ended up in hospital with a serious case of Kidney stones and required emergency surgery. I arrived home on Tuesday and with little else to do, I thought I might summon up the energy to continue with this project.
I was pleased with my progress but felt I needed to try to remove a couple of blemishes in the filler. So once more I began the process of filling and sanding, dusting with primer and more sanding.
I think it’s fair to say that the hard work pays off and you can be rewarded with a good-looking model. However, a finished model is still going to be months away.
I also started on the second coach which will just have roller shutters each side. Unfortunately, I was only able to acquire one Lima brake so I had to fill loads of windows on each side of the coach. I have yet to cut the doors out but this will be done once the windows progress a bit more.
Here are a few pics of the same coach as above but after a bit more work. This is not the final primer coat so don’t worry about the dusty finger marks!
The second coach is shown below after some very early sanding and re-filling. Hopefully, tomorrow with see some more progress with this coach and maybe even the cutting of the roller shutter doors. I know the coach looks rough in the pics but it will get better!
There’s going to be a lot of work before it looks like the coach in the photo below so keep coming back to check my progress. Why don’t you follow my blog to keep up to date with all the updates.
Fill, sand, fill, sand, fill, sand……..
The second coach looked very rough a few days ago and didn’t look much better for quite a long time, When filling large areas with filler, you shouldn’t expect great results instantly. For deep areas, your model is no different to your home and any DIY project. If you are filling a large space, you need to let the first bit of filler go off hard and then add some more. This can add quite a bit of time to your project but there really is no other way. After a while you will be ready to start sanding.
I like to use sanding sticks and have recently used 6 sticks with grades ranging from very course to very fine. Even after I had sanded the sides down with a fine sanding stick, I still found there was always somewhere which needed more sanding.
The above pictures show the state of the coach toward the end of 15.06.18. What can be seen here is the difficulty I caused myself by not obtaining a second Lima brake coach. Many brake coaches were converted for departmental use and while I can just about get away without a second brake coach on my project, you can see in one of the pictures that one of my cut lines ran through a window, resulting in the need for me to build up the back and inside of the window aperture before filling it. This needed to withstand the pressure of being cut to size and manipulated into a rolling shutter door way. I think I may have got away with it!
I spent so much time looking at the side of this coach trying to sort out what I was feeling and I think was something like this… These coaches were already past their best and were passed into departmental use when their revenue earning potential had come to an end. Their bodies were not great then so no one was going to spend hours making them look amazing again. My coaches don’t need to have perfect bodies – they are not the Royal Train. If you can still see the outline of a previous window on my model, it’s because there was a window there. If you can still see the outline of a previous window on any breakdown train coach, it’s because there was probably a window there. I want my coaches to look like good models but that doesn’t mean they have to look like the best coaches ever made, I’ll leave that to Golden Age models or some other high spec company.
So by the end of 16.06.18, we had something looking like this.
If you don’t come back again soon, you’ll never know what I did today!
Putting the Detail Back
At the recent Doncaster O Gauge show, I was pleased to find many small traders selling good quality detailing parts and these just happened to be all the bits that I was wanting to remove and replace. I filled a good size bag with Easy Build bogie kits and some lovely Markits buffers. (Don’t worry, I did pay for them!)
It was so good to get the Markit Buffers onto the coaches. While not particularly cheap, they instantly brought a touch of quality to the old Lima coach bodies. I then turned my attention to the end detail. Having researched many of the Re-Railing Trains up and down the country, it was evident that the ends of the coaches also had a huge variation.
I was able to use some etched brass parts (from a Just Like the Real Thing BG Coach kit) as templates and cut out some end pieces from plasticard of various thicknesses. This also helped to bring the featureless coaches back to life.
Having looked at the pictures repeatedly, I knew that my models needed to have some form of door jam/step on the roller shutter doors. I went through my supply of evergreen strip to see if there was anything suitable. After a small period of trial and error, I came up with this solution and felt it looked even better once it was toned down with a dusting of primer.
I then turned my attention to footsteps for the coaches. I made a number of checks to ensure that footsteps didn’t remain where they once might have been on the original coaches – oh and – I actually had to check the prototype coaches to see if I had to add steps and the models to see if I had to add new steps or remove any old unwanted steps. As it happens, the models did not have any footsteps so I had a blank canvas on which to add detail. So as you can see, I have added a few steps after checking the photograhic records of these coaches. I would like to add some light units that help to illuminate the ground, however, I have yet to find the materials that might be useful for this. In addition to this, I have yet to decide if I want to try to make these lights work. This is a challenge for another day!
I then decided to do something that had been exciting me for quite a while. When these coaches were delivered, the coach painters must have really wanted to make an impression by painting the wheel rims white and the axle boxes yellow. Other pictures, clearly show that these freshly painted areas did not remain clean for long. Despite this and the fact that much of my modelling stock is weathered, I decided to add this colourful touch to my bogies, knowing that they shouldn’t need too much other work on them after this colourful addition. Having decided to use enamel paint, I was told to get myself, my paint and the models out into the garden. As it was such a fine afternoon, who was I to refuse!
Well it’s now the evening of 18.06.18. You are now up to date with my progress so far. I have found a fine drill bit. I think I know where my wire is. I’m hoping my hand rail folding jig will arrive soon but that’s all for another day.
My yellow Railmatch paint is in the garage, but don’t get over excited, I’m not ready for that yet!…I’ll let you know.
Sometimes the SMALL things matter!
Today was not a day of big developments on the coach project, however, a number of smaller details were added and I do feel these have made an incredible difference when you look closely to the model.
I marked out the positions for the hand rails however, I have not added these as I am waiting for a jig to help with this job. Hopefully this will arrive soon.
I decided I would also add the screw link couplings to both coaches. These were purchased at the Doncaster show in a pack of three. It was really satisfying to see these coaches coupled together for the first time without the laughable Lima bogie couplings.
It may seem strange to file off lots of detail and then replace it again with brass or white metal parts, however, the next items I fitted demonstrate the value of such actions. These T handle parts were also purchased on during my recent Doncaster Mk1 coach part acquisition trip! I cannot express just how delighted I am with these tiny parts. A look at them suggested that they may have been machined rather than being a lost wax part. They really are fantastic! I guess I’m easily pleased!
Well, it doesn’t look like a lot of progress, but progress was made today. The chevrons were ordered from Fox transfers as well as some laser cut flush fitting glazing supplied by Intentio models.
Sooner or later, I am going to have to paint these models!
Everyone Loves a Good Jig!
My little handrail tool arrived a few days ago and I was pleased to un-wrap it and have a little practice. I was a bit take by the fact that all the measurements were in even millimeters e.g: 2mm, 4mm and so on. I’m not sure if there is a jig available for 3mm, 5mm etc.
It was really satisfying to see the handrails on the coach. If those in the picture look a bit uneven, don’t panic, they are still lose and maybe replaced with another attempt. I shall fix the top ones before painting and leave the bottom ones loose before painting as the chevron decal goes through the handrail. I think it might be a nightmare fixing the decal around a handrail.
If anyone is detailing models and needs to be handrails, I totally recommend that you add this little tool to your tool box.
Going Under – or – It can’t get any worse!
It couldn’t get any worse could it? The Lima chassis is simply a display of laziness in the design department. They clearly never looked at the coaches and if they did, someone decided that they should ignore any detail and just make it up.
As I was trying quite hard to make the coach look quite respectable, despite its short comings, I was acutely aware that the coaches still possessed their dire under frames and I would need to do something about it! While Howes Models had some Heljan sprues available, not all of them were in stock and an email to Denmark revealed that there were none there either and they had no plans to make any more.
I did manage to get some of the long truss parts from Howes and decided that the only way I was going to get these truss parts built was if I scratch built them myself. I went to a local model shop and obtained some L shape Evergreen strip.
I made a drawing of the parts I needed, cut them out and glued them together. I then had to remove the old moulding from the Lima coach. Fortunately, I had recently purchased a fine tooth saw with 3 blades. This was packaged and supplied by Gaugemaster and really did a great job. In no time at all, the offending truss parts were off and I was left with a blank canvas to rebuild a better looking chassis.
I measured the coach to check the clearances and then fixed the truss parts across the width of the coach. The tricky part came as I had to add the Heljan pieces to my plasticard creations. Unfortunately, I had to cut the Heljan pieces into 4 to get them to fit, but this was not really a difficult task.
Once it was all in place, it was obvious that the hard work had been worth it. A quick dusting of matt black primer helped to make the chassis look almost presentable.
The under frames still need some more work. They need vacuum brake cylinders and dynamos. They will need some more boxes to go with the battery box and the brakes may need a few linkages. Well, I’ll try to add a bit more of that if I can…
Now where’s the next coach..
That yellow paint hasn’t arrived yet…just as well I guess!
‘Let there be paint’
Well that yellow paint did arrive today. What can I say, I am like a child with a new toy! There were other things that needed doing first though.
I needed to resolve the truss issue on the remaining coach using the truss parts I had previously obtained from Howes models. On this coach, I decided I would use the upright parts in addition to the long truss parts in the hope that I cold avoid cutting the long truss into pieces. I think I just about managed it, however, I did have to do quite a bit of cutting as I went on.
I had also obtained some parts from the excellent Easy-Build. While Shawn’s focus is on selling his brilliant kits, he is very kind enough to sell separate parts to scratch builders and is always willing to discuss your needs. I hadn’t met him before the Doncaster O gauge show but found him to be very helpful with my project. On this coach, I added one of the Easy-Build battery boxes to the coach to provide this coach with plenty of power if needed.
On a previous occasion, I had obtained a Just Like The Real Thing BG coach for £50. This was a total bargain given the former retail price and was still a bargain after replacing the etched brass wheel task with the simpler to construct Easy-Build bogies! I guess there’s a reason why they are called Easy-Build!
The coach was in a dreadful state when I got it with the chassis ends and sides fixed with what looked like impact adhesive. I can only guess that someone assembled these parts in the dark or gave them to a small child to assemble. When I received the kit, it took me several nights of work to remove excess glue and smooth the sides again. After this, I primed the coach using Halfords grey primer.
I had originally painted the BG olive green from a Humbrol can and it looked very respectable. I planned to have a little departmental maintenance train for my layout…and then another crazy idea came along.
With two Lima coaches in the works, I realised that the BG coach could make my Breakdown/Re-railing train look very impressive. I did need to change the colour, however, so I primed the coach again in grey (oops) and let it dry.
Today was a big day for me and my airbrush. I’m still a relative novice when it comes to this method of painting and I have lots to learn from my good friend Kelvin Barnes. For a number of months, I have been having an ongoing conversation about the pros and cons of acrylic paints and enamel paints. For some reason (and I don’t really know what it was) when I got the airbrush, I went straight to the use of acrylics without considering some of the benefits of enamels.
Kelvin, has now been kind enough to give me several hours of advice and demonstrations in the dark art of weathering with enamels and has been encouraging me to make this change without being afraid of enamel paint.
I have recently purchased quite a few paint pots from the Railmatch range so that I can continue to weather my own stock. In addition to this, I also purchased the yellow needed for this project and some white primer.
I decided that I would make my first attempt on the BG rather than ruin a few weeks of work. I mixed the yellow and got to work. What I suddenly realised is that gray is hard to cover with yellow. I should have primed this white first, but the colour did slowly build up and I managed to do this with out any pools or runs…phew! I shall continue tomorrow with another few coats, content that the correct depth of colour isn’t too far away. I also learned today that warmth can be as big a problem as damp and airbrush sessions are very reliant on the weather. Well here’s my first effort using enamels on a large area using an airbrush.
Having realised that grey is not the easiest colour to cover with yellow. I decided to prime the main two coaches that I had been working on with white. I had luckily purchased a pot of Railmatch white primer. So I took off the bogies and put both coaches through the paint shop for a coat of white primer. I mixed this slightly thinner this time to avoid some of the problems I had earlier with paint flow issues.
I was quite pleased with the finish on these and look forward to giving them a coat of yellow paint. They really are starting to come alive. I really ought to clean the track though and make an engine move some time soon!
Well it’s been far too hot in recent days to do much painting even though I would like to do some and get some models painted.
In the last entry, we left the BG looking yellowish and the main coaches in white primer.
In recent days, both main coaches have been painted yellow. This was thew first large area project I had done using enamel paints with an airbrush. I made every effort to get a good coverage and good depth of colour but after the first session, I realised that I would need to let both coaches dry and then give them another coat of yellow. After this, I managed to get a reasonably satisfactory coverage and depth of colour. I’m sure they will look OK with windows, decals and a bit of weathering here and there.
I had been waiting a few days for some additional parts to arrive so I could add some detail to the chassis area. Some brake cylinders arrived from CRT kits and these were given a little fettling prior to them being fixed to the chassis.
The V hanger posed a problem as I need quite a few of them. I looked in my spares box and while I found a few they were not big enough. I decided that I would try to make them out of plasticard so having taken a few measurements from a Heljan coach, I drew out some shapes on a piece of plasticard and cut a couple of V hangers out. These were stuck in place with wire going through that and the truss holes. I’m glad it all lined up!
It’s a bit hot today but I was able to mask the sides and paint the chassis black. Now it’s starting to look quite good. Except, the paint on the buffers bubbled! – Then I realised that this is the only area where I had put acrylic black over enamel yellow – so I shouldn’t be surprised that it bubbled! At least it was only on the buffers – I can sort that!
We’re getting there but there are still lots of jobs to do. The BG coach needs further coats of yellow paint and then all the coaches will need a coat of gloss varnish. Then I will need to sort out the roof torpedoes. I need to add some brake pipes at each end of the coaches and have obtained these from CRT.
I’m not sure the BG is going to get painted anytime soon with the current warm spell so the gloss varnish and decals will have to wait. Never mind…there’s still lots to do…like sorting out the bubbly buffers!
NO NO. DON’T TOUCH THE NOZZLE!
Well that is my advice if you have an airbrush or find yourself thinking about one. Clean it but leave the nozzle well alone. I didn’t and it has cost me dearly. However, today’s post brought a shiny new Iwata airbrush and I couldn’t wait to give it a go!
It worked really beautifully and was a joy to use. I managed to paint the BG coach yellow with such ease building up a really good coat of yellow.
I shall now leave this for a few days to harden before giving all three coaches a coat of gloss.
This is the current state of all the coaches now waiting for their gloss coat.
Let’s just Gloss over This!
Well it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog but things are progressing well. Since we last me, I’ve placed all the torpedo roof vents in place and painted the roofs using the airbrush. It was great fun painting them grey using Railmatch enamel paints and then weathering around the vents with a darker almost black mix. The new airbrush (Neo by Iwata) made this job really easy and I have really enjoyed using it. Once all this was dry I gave the roofs a coat of matt varnish.
The coaches were recently varnished using Railmatch gloss varnish. I have been using white spirit to thin my paints with absolutely no problems when painting.
I left the varnish to dry for a few days before being brave enough to consider the decals.
While these coaches have been progressing, I did switch my attention back to the polybulk wagons which were completed quite a few months ago. I tried to weather these with my old airbrush and to be honest, I made a right hash of them and totally over did it. Despite taking advice from (my teacher) Kelvin, I decided to obtain new decals and repaint the sides again. Both wagons have been stripped and sanded down and primed. I am at the stage where one now has green on its side and the other needs to be masked before it gets a fresh coat of green paint. I shall then gloss varnish them before adding new decals.
Well back to the coaches…I decided I needed to get on with the decal application, so I got all the things I needed onto the table, opened my laptop back to the source pictures and made a start. Despite knowing where I wanted the long thin decal to go, It was not that much fun trying the get the first piece level. I had wrapped a piece of lining tape around my ruler so I could get the decal in the right position but it was very tricky and stressful. Despite all that, I was thrilled by the way it dried. The chevron strips were Fox transfers and dried flat and perfect. I’m quite sure the varnish helped with this. I shall never deviate from this method ever again.
I spoke to Kelvin again and he suggested that I should place some making/lining tape around the coach in the right position and then slide the transfer against the edge of the tape. So I did this with some lining tape and hey! it really helped.
Well the coaches are not finished at all. There is still a lot to do and I want them finished for the Southwold Model Railway exhibition in August. Here are a few pictures thought to show the progress so far.
We Made It!
Well after what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to get the coach project finished. A major family bereavement took lots of my time and made me realise that some things are actually more important than model trains. However, I really wanted to get to Southwold with my colleagues to show off the coaches. This meant that there was still lots to do in the last week such as weathering and glazing. Despite the challenges that came my way – i think I made it!
The Southwold show is probably the biggest show in the eastern region and attracts a lot of good quality layouts, traders and demonstrators.
I know that Kelvin will want to post some pics of his layout onto his blog so I will try and stick to pics of my stock – these were all taken on the Sunday at the Southwold show.