SPA Wagons – Paint and Filth

Painted a fetching shade of pink.

I really like this stage – painting and weathering is what really brings things to life. The primer stage is where the model looks at its worst; flat, characterless and lifeless. We have to overcome this to bring it to life.

Colour and the accuracy of it is something which is often discussed within modelling circles and I’m afraid it’s all subjective and colour never scales. So the wagon isn’t in an exact match for Railfreight Red but is actually pink. Railfreight Red faded terribly and so pink is far more accurate in many ways. I used Humbrol no. 60 Scarlet and no. 28 Camouflage Grey to get the shade I wanted. It resembles strawberry milkshake when it’s being mixed but looks very good once applied to the model. And my little girl likes that I’m painting models pink, she loves pink!

Transfers are beginning to be applied now.

Once dry I began to add transfers, those pictured are all from Fox but future ones will also use Railtec Transfers too. My intention was to apply individual numbers by hand but it was a struggle. I fell on my left arm a while back and am waiting to see a consultant so this particular day I decided to give up and remove the panels and use Modelmaster transfers from a sheet for steel wagons. Frustratingly the panel is a bit too tall but I hope the weathering will hide this anomaly.

Weathering partially completed – working from photos and slowly building the effect along the wagon.

With transfers in place, weathering could begin! The wagon was sealed with a coat of Humbrol matt acrylic varnish from an aerosol – a matt finish will help capture the faded, tired paintwork. The underframe was sprayed with a mix of Humbrol no. 33 Matt Black and no. 62 Matt Leather to dull it down, varying the mixes slight as I went along.

Rust would be a mix of Humbrol colours; no. 53, Metallic Gunmetal, no. 100 Red Brown and no. 27004 Metalcote Gunmetal and the odd bit of no. 82 Matt Orange. The main mix is Red Brown and Metallic Gunmetal which gives a nice rust shade and the Metalcote Gunmetal helps create an old rusty finish – the metallic particles also give a nice but of texture, though this works better in larger scales it does make a difference in 4mm scale. Changing the basic mix of colours creates subtle and natural variations of rust. It’s not a quite process but the results are very satisfying. This process has been described by Martyn Welch in Model Railway Journal No. 262 for strapping on wooden wagons.

The wagon floor is rusty, enhanced with sparingly applied weathering powder.

I stippled the paint on, the floor was quite an expanse but stippling gives a much nicer appearance than just painting the mix on.

The rust process completed.

A mist of Matt Black and Matt Leather brings everything together and removes the slightly stark appearance of the newly applied rust.

The underframe now complete with its wheels.

The wheels were sprayed with the Black and Leather mix and as the paint dried the brake discs were cleaned with a pointed cotton bud moistened with white spirit. The clean discs contrast rather nicely with the filthy wagon.

The final hob was to paint the cleats, brake lever handles and lamp irons with an off white, Camouflage Grey works well though I used Model Colour Off White so I could wash it off the cleats if I made a mistake!

Very nearly finished now – just couplings to go.

Coupling hooks from Ambis Engineering have been added and now the wagon just requires Sprat and Winkle couplings and I think it’ll be done!


Class 37/7 no. 37714 Cardiff Canton at Loughborough, August 2022.

We had a spontaneous break in Leicestershire on and around the Great Central Railway – Kerry’s suggestion and my first proper visit! If you’ve not visited, you really should.

A very smart looking class 37/7 no. 37714 Cardiff Canton was on shed at Loughborough – a sign of getting old when parts of your childhood are preserved for posterity!

SPA Wagons – Completing the Undeframe

Time to pick up where we left off.

Everything in place – I’m sticking with describing my contribution as “impressionistic” though!

There wasn’t so much left on the wagon to complete before painting. The main things being an air reservoir and the brake distributor – the latter from the Stenson Models range and the latter just plastic tube with filler to create the rounded ends. You can add the pipework to the brake distributor but I chose not to as you can’t see it – even with my liking for underframe detail as fine with this! You can see the 2mm lead sheet used to add weight to the wagon too.

There’s enough here to fill the gaps to satisfy anyone reasonably familiar with the wagons and once on the layout this will be more than enough.

The underframe has been airbrushed with Clostermann black etch primer – it’s perfect for tasks like this.

I airbrushed the underframe with my favoured etch primer – Clostermann black etch primer. It goes on beautifully! Plus it adheres to plastic very well so it’s perfect for this kind of work.

Primed – ready for the fun part to begin!

The next stage is where the fun really begins!

SPA Wagons – Brake Gear

The first of our SPA wagons fitted with Stenson Models’ new parts.

I mentioned that I have been looking forward to getting the new Stenson Models parts for our SPA wagons. When I was first looking at modelling the North Lindsey Light Railway, this photo from an old issue of RAIL magazine shows three aspects which appealed, the class 08s, a brake van and the various SPA wagons.

An image taken from an article on the line from a rather old copy of RAIL Magazine – the operation in involving the local pilots is rather well illustrated here. Reproduced by kind permission of Dr Michael Rhodes.

The Cambrian kit was always going to be the basis for the fleet and originally I was going to use Bill Bedford sprung W irons, I had about seven wagons built and fitted like this but then the Stenson Models sprung W irons were announced which would be much more accurate for these wagons and include the brake calipers.

Incidentally the Bill Bedford W irons are wrong as such, the extra additions to the Stenson ones made achieving my aims much easier.

James and I have measured and photographed an SPA wagon at Scunthorpe with a view to designing our own etched parts but then when Colin Craig is said to be working on the same, I can’t compete with his abilities!

So I have been patiently waiting.

Now the parts have arrived and I’ve made a start on the first wagon, which has already been fitted with the Stenson running gear.

The Long Lever side of the wagon.

The wait has really been worth it! The parts are beautifully designed and assemble into a surprisingly strong assembly, surprising only because of how delicate the parts appear.

Underneath – the brake rigging is a bit impressionistic but once it’s the right way up it’ll fill the daylight.

I’ve built it exactly as the instructions suggest and it’s worked very well. I’ve also added a basic representation of the brake rigging too using a few bits from a Mainly Trains etch I have had for years – though Wizard Models now supply the former Mainly Trains range of parts thankfully.

A side view of the wagon, you can just make out the brake rigging.

For the brake rigging on subsequent wagons I think a jig is needed to ensure consistency and make it a bit more straightforward.

I’ve made various little modifications and improvements to the basic wagons which I’ll cover another time but now I can happily get on with the fleet of wagons.

Inspirational D&E – The Best Class 37?

Class 37 by Nick Hardcastle

Back in the early eighties Railway Modeller had a lot of excellent D&E articles, including many by Monty Wells (no relation!) and I’m going to talk about Monty’s influence at a later date, but his article on modelling class 37s in the January 1983 which was very comprehensive.

Railway Modeller April 1983

The article generated a couple of letters, one of which was accompanied by two photos which show one of the very best models of a class 37 you’ll ever see.

It’s hard to believe it’s a Hornby model!

This is the letter –

The recent excellent article on the Class 37 by Monty Wells prompted me to send several photographs of a Class 37 I have recently modelled. Taking into account the general improvements he advocates in the article, I decided to go a little further.

One of the discrepancies which detract from Most obvious discrepancies which detract from the Hornby incorrect bogie sideframes. I are the decided to scrap the existing class 47 sideframes and replace them with ones of the correct design constructed from Plastikard. With hindsight it would have been preferable to have constructed them from thin brass sheet as they are a little fragile. Completely new fuel/battery boxes were also made and additions to the body included extending the valance along the whole lower edge of the body side. This was obtained by cementing several layers of Plastikard and then filing and finally sanding down to the correct profile. The circular meshed grill on the roof covering the cooling fan was made of the fine meshed foil found on electric shavers. I decided to retain the Hornby coupling at one end only while at the other end I indulged myself in the profusion of detail, such as vacuum pipes, train heating pipes, sand pipes, screw couplings etc., etc.

The model was painted using Humbrol paints in the early BR green livery. The headcodes are correct for the locomotive running during the 1961/63 period on the Norwich to Liverpool Street trains on the Eastern Region. Finally as much lead as possible was packed into the inside of the fuel/battery tanks to improve the adhesion.


The model is absolutely superb, especially given the lack of parts for improving diesels at this time!

Class 37 by Nick Hardcastle

The shape, proportions, shape/size of the windscreens, the shape of the nose, how it sits, the scratch built bogie sideframes, there’s nothing you see where you think it could be improved.

To me it’s a work of art.

This is a model which deserved a full article rather than being tucked away in the letter pages. I do wonder what other model Nick Hardcastle made and is Nick still around in the hobby?

I find this model really inspiring, it makes me want to make my locos to the best of my ability and capture the real thing as well as the model did.

Tell you what, Accurascale will have to do something special to capture the class 37 as well as Nick Hardcastle did.

Refining a Revolution – The First Cargowaggon

The first finished Cargowaggon.

James S described the Revolution Trains Cargowaggon a little while back so I won’t go over things here. But there are some areas where it can be improved.

The main issues are the buffers, handwheels in the wrong place relative to the body (which affects the relative position of the end handrails) and the shape of the solebars around the ends of the wagon. None of these issues are difficult to rectify and I think the effort is certainly well repaid.

Dismantled and ready to go. The brass rectangles are from when I was going to scratch build the buffers but then I got a copy of S Kits’ product list and using their buffers was an obvious choice.

The model needs to be dismantled into its key components. The photo shows the result of this – I also added a bit if extra weight in the form of a strip of lead flashing at this stage too.

The bogies at first seemed rather basic after seeing them after coming to this model straight from the Cavalex Models’ BBA wagons. These bogies have no brake gear and are basic but the design of the real thing means you cannot see this anyway. There is a nice degree of depth to the springs and axle boxes which really come to life once they’re weathered.

The only odd thing are the hoods around the bearings which need removing to allow P4 and EM gauge wheels to be fitted.

Removing the ‘hood’ around the bearings to allow for P4 wheels.

This simple modification works very well and Black Beetle wheels seem very happy in the bogies. They were blackened with Birchwood Casey Gun Blue before weathering.

P4 wheels fitted.

Once the buffers arrived from S Kits I looked at fitting them. Unfortunately there are a few compromises around this area, they only revealed themselves the further I got and the more familiar I became with the prototype.

S Kits buffers.

The effort is certainly rewarded once they’re in place. Revolution’s buffers are probably the weakest aspect of the model. If you do nothing else to your own wagons, treat them to new buffers!

I blackened the heads as I described in the BBA project.

Buffers in place.

Pushing ahead a little, the difference in the buffers can be seen, the oddly placed join on the Revolution buffers is very noticeable.

Comparing the supplied buffers, left, with the lovely S Kits replacements on the right.

I replaced the bar which indicates the door locks with 0,31mm nickel silver wire from Eileen’s Emporium, a little bit of refining. The gaps left by the original were filled with Plastikard off cuts, filler and smoothed before drilling 0,5mm holes for the new bar set further out from the end. Not everyone will think it’s worthwhile but I think it makes a difference.

What does make a huge difference is moving the handwheels away from the ends to their correct positions. I’m honestly not sure why this error has appeared on the model.

The start of the modifications to the ends.

I’m not going to give dimensions as I guessed from photos! 40 thou Plastikard was used and it’s relatively straightforward using Paul Bartlett’s photos to get relative sizes and positions. For the ‘nearside’ front corners there’s part of the door mechanism missing from the lower corner of the buffer beams which is a length of 40 x 60 thou Plastikard with a couple of short handrail knobs and 0,45mm handrail wire to give an impression of what should be there.


The new hand wheels are from Stenson Models and really do look lovely – the existing items are ok but I do like the Stenson ones so upgraded.

Stenson Models hand wheels.

Combined all these small changes do make a very satisfying little project.

The end painted with the hand wheels and handrail in the correct positions.

I’ve fitted my preferred Spray and Winkle couplings, I’ll cover these in a more general sense at a later date.


Weathering is key to the appearance of these wagons – they got absolutely filthy, filthier than you expect for box vans.

A side view.

The clean patches are a very distinctive feature of the wagons so I built the effect in many stages, cleaning the panels as I went until I had the desired effect.

An end view showing the handwheels now in their correct positions.

The Revolution Trains model is as pretty good base to start with and the improvements are definitely worth the extra effort. Obviously the weathering has the biggest impact but I’ll leave it for you to decide if you think it was all worthwhile.

Just another three to go now!


Paul Bartlett’s Photographs – Norsk Hydro Holdall German registered

Inspirational D&E – Carron Road

Over this last weekend I was at various old magazines and revisiting some of my earliest memories of diesel and electric railway modelling. I like to look back at these articles from time to time as they often lift my enthusiasm and help spur me on to get some modelling done. They also provide a nice antidote to the current trend of so many seemingly wanting everything available ready-to-run instead of getting on with it themselves.

Maybe it was a simpler time in the hobby?

Cannon Road in ModelRAIL.

When I was nine years old, one layout appeared in the December ‘Bumper’ edition of the old ModelRAIL magazine – Nigel Bowyer’s Carron Road. It had a big impact – so much so my copy of has had to be replaced because it was so dig earred! There was something about the layout which really appealed to me.

It seemed different from most layouts which I had seen and it looked incredibly realistic. It still does when I look back at it now despite the Lima based class 37 starting there with its faults but even so the overall effect still impresses me today. The track plan with its transverser making the end of the loop was new too, though I’d discover in time Iain Rice’s approach to design and understand the thinking behind this style of design and his ‘bitsa’ designs.

Carron Road track plan.

Looking at it now I can see the layout is done to a consistent standard right across the board and this really adds to the overall effect. Also helping this is that this standard is quite high too. Weathering of all items to some degree draws everything together.

Model Railway Journal No. 76

The layout also appeared in Model Railway Journal, issue 76, with some very atmospheric photographs by Barry Norman. Strangely one of the most evocative views actually shows a train coming out of the fiddle yard, but with the sector plate in full view!

Carron Road

I’ll share the occasional post on this subject as I think these older articles need sharing so those who missed them first time get to see them and maybe be inspired and enthused too.

Will’s Workbench – the new home of Stenson Models

Will’s Workbench – the new home of Stenson Models.

Regular readers will probably know we’re fans of the Stenson Models range of products. Well, the range has now changed hands and is available from Will’s Workbench Model Railways

Phil Eames and Colin Craig remain to develop new products but the day to day operations will be handled by Will’s Workbench.

So great news which ensures a very long and bright future for this wonderful range!

A reminder of the sort of lovely parts which are in the Stenson Models range.

Lima CD Motor Conversion

Lima motors have always come in for bad press, often by those who didn’t know how to look after them. You’d find examples which were sold as “poor runners” which needed only oil on motor bearings and some grease on their gear before a bit of a run to completely transform them. I’ve had all sorts of Lima locos which have run superbly – Ultrascale wheels and extra weight also help, as does fitting extra pick ups of you can. So if anyone tells you Lima motors are terrible, tell them they’re wrong!

The re-motoring pack as it comes.

One problem we face, though, is wear and tear. Even usually reliable locos will eventually need some attention. Disassembly and thorough cleaning, adjusting brushes, replacing anything as required will help things but not everyone will be comfortable with this sort of task. I frequently do this kind of work the NRM on models there and it’s also quite dirty work with old oil and carbon dust getting everywhere so I’d not blame anyone for not wanting to do this! But there may be another solution for ailing Lima models.

CD motor conversions are not new, Model Torque (remember them?) produced something very similar twenty years ago, I did fit a couple but didn’t see a huge improvement over the motors I replaced at the time. More recently I spoke with my friend John Shaw who’d used CD motors in a couple of his locos on his P4 layout based on York MPD in the sixties with great result. But it’s been on the back burner until I was left unsupervised on eBay last week.

Strathpeffer Junction produce a varied selection of CD motor conversions for Hornby and Lima models. There are various motors depending upon the room available and their website guides you through the which motor will fit which model.

The motor bogie fitted with the CD motor and bracket.

For my model of 47380 I thought the kit might be worth a punt – it’s £12.99 for the motor, mount and gears which seemed quite reasonable. The loco was ok but not the greatest runner – my intention was to strip the motor and overhaul the parts but I decided the Strathpeffer Junction worth a try.

For the six wheeled bogie the site says you’ll need a 9mm motor but I went for the 12mm as it’s 00 wheels which restrict the width. The 12mm motor is more powerful, produces more torque and is, importantly, 12v. Being 12v avoids the need to faff about with diodes to drop voltages as you need with the 6v and 9v motors. The smaller motors also have warnings about no extra weight, etc, so the 12mm motor is very much preferable I think.

There’s just enough room for the 12mm motor between P4 wheels.

You can see it’s a bit tight but it works – just!

The only awkward bit is cutting the gear to length but the instructions guide you through. Beyond this is it simply unscrewing the motor, remove bits, the screw the new one in place. The 3D printed mount is basic in appearance but does the job very well. You’ll need to unsolder and resolder the wires but beyond that it’s essentially plug and play. First impressions on a short test track are quite favourable, though it’s very quick to accelerate so on traditional DC a light hand might be needed to avoid spinning the wheels but DCC, in time, I’ll control it’s acceleration rates to smooth this out.

For £12.99 and an hour’s work it seems pretty good value. I do like budget projects, they’re becoming increasingly attractive as the cost of living rises.

I bought the motor via Strathpeffer Junction’s eBay store –

Clicky Linky Bit

If anyone else has longer term experience of the conversions I’d be interested to hear.