Peter Johnson

This weekend I learned that Peter Johnson had passed away. I think we weren’t alone in being shocked by the news. Sadly I didn’t know Peter, though I spoke to him briefly at a couple of exhibitions.

A faded 08296 – you’ll have to remind yourself that this is a model and not the real thing.

Many, like me, know Peter entirely through his modelling – some of the best modelling I’ve seen.

Peter’s hybrid Hornby and Bachmann class 25, which featured in a superb article in Rail Express Modeller nearly twenty years ago – beautiful modelling.

I can remember seeing Canada Road (Canada Street’s predecessor) in Rail Express Modeller in the early 2000s and it impressed many people. It had a look of normality, the mundane – qualities many modellers can struggle to catch so well. It was the finishing and weathering that immediately caught my eye, everything worked together in harmony, nothing stood out everything was part of the overall scene.

Looking closer you began to see the quality of the modelling – scratch built diesel shunters dating from a time when diesel modellers weren’t served as well as now. A scratch built class 07 caught my eye among the modelling. I’ll be honest I hadn’t realised it was actually scratch built until a number of years later! EM Gauge 70s is a wonderful showcase for Peter’s modelling – along with its other contributors – and through this his work can inspire for many years yet.

An example of Peter’s scratch building ability – I doubt many of us could capture the prototype so well through scratch building. Beautiful modelling, isn’t it?

One article of Peter’s which really caught my imagination was his feature on modelling class 25s in Rail Express Modeller. He used Hornby bodies as a basis – he and Jim Smith-Wright both wrote about this as a starting point. The Hornby body was a much better shape than the original Bachmann model of the type.

Rail Express Modeller Supplement No. 7 – the hybrid class 25.

The article was just the sort of thing that Rail Express did very well in their modelling section – pragmatic, high quality modelling. Despite the very high standard of modelling it was described in a clear and achievable way. I like articles like this.

Rail Express Modeller Supplement No. 7 – the Hornby based class 25/3

One thing I like to see is the reworking of older models, the class 25s being great examples of this, especially the ones which used the Hornby chassis as well as the Hornby body. More and more (though it tends to be the vocal types in Facebook groups!) you see people demanding more in ready to run form, rather than actually doing some modelling. Seeing modellers relying on their own devices and abilities is quite heartening – this attitude and approach is seen across EM Gauge 70s.

A silk purse from a sow’s ear – this captures the English Electric look superbly, especially the ‘face’ of the locomotive.

There is something satisfying watching someone turn something basic into something stunning. His wagons reflected this approach too – it’s ‘proper’ modelling I think, built-not-bought. Combining components from all sorts of sources to create the end result. The grain wagon build we’ve followed on EM Gauge 70s recently really demonstrated this approach I feel. Very inspiring stuff!

One of Peter’s beautifully weathered mineral wagons, this one having an open door! The shades of rust are just perfect, the rusty buffer shanks elevate the model to another level.

Canada Street is of course a very well known and admired. The structures are impressive, their sheer bulk and size to begin with but the more you study them. There’s something absolutely delightful about the layout, seeing at shows never disappoints!

Canada Street

Peter’s modelling has been inspirational, I’m quite sure it will continue to impress and inspire people for many years to come.

Canada Street – one of the finest model railways I’ve seen. The warehouses were stunning – their size impressed immediately but studying the buildings rewarded the viewer with amazing attention to detail and beautiful finishing.

I must thank Kier Hardy for allowing me to use photos from EM Gauge 70s.

Our thoughts are with Peter’s family and friends.

An Austin Allegro

Advert for the Austin Allegro 2

I really like making road vehicles – when I was younger I spent a lot of time building and repainting buses – most still exist,stored at my parents’ house. Creating decent cars and other small vehicles, especially before the likes of Cararama and Oxford Diecast came on the scene, was quite a challenge, especially anything post 1970 when kits were thin on the ground – Springside produced a small selection (their Land Rover Discovery is a decent kit incidentally) along with a few others. Beacon Models produced a small range of cars, I had a Metro from their range, a rather yellow clear resin moulding. Taylor Precision Models produced some lovely kits, sadly missed. There will be other ranges I’ve forgotten. Hornby made a Ford Sierra which looking now wasn’t great but it seemed alright thirty years ago!

The modern diecast models can be very good but suffer from typical diecast model paint work, terribly thick and the power to obscure most fine detail. But stripped and repainted many have excellent possibilities.

CMAC Models Austin Allegro

Easy access to 3D printers and CAD software has lead to all sorts of new products from the very best like Modelu to misshapen wagons and snow ploughs that look like they’re made of Play-doh. Thankfully there are many products which are rather nice. CMAC Models have a small range of locos and units in N gauge and a selection of units in 4mm scale. Browsing their eBay shop, through which they sell their products I became aware they also produce a range of cars, mainly in 1/32 scale but also a couple in 4mm scale. Here I noticed a 4mm scale Austin Allegro. See here for the item on eBay.

We had Allegros in the family, my dad walked away from a head on collision in his with no injuries (someone overtaking a lorry in thick fog – not good). Maroon with a black vinyl roof and gold coach lines, very of its time!

The two components.

By 1992, when West Halton is set, there were still some around so it seemed like a nice little project and very reasonably priced too – it makes a change from everything becoming so expensive!

The body in primer highlighting the surface finish.

For just under seven of your hard earned pounds, you get two components – a body with the dashboard and a chassis with wheels and a basic interior. The body is very well proportioned just with typical marks from the 3D printing process but we can deal with this.

I’m thinking about converting it to an Allegro 3 with it’s newer plastic bumpers and revised details but we’ll see. Comparing photos of different models of Allegro I’ve become not too bad at spotting the differences!

It’s the start of a very nice project.

DEFine Modellers Day 2023

We made the trip down to Derbyshire today for the first time since 2018 for the DEFine Modellers Day. DEFine organised another great little show.

Boston Frodsham

And what a lovely day it was!

It’s a small show but there’s the some excellent modelling on display and plenty of opportunity to chat and exchange ideas – LinkedIn types would perhaps say “networking opportunities” – one for the discerning D&E modeller I think. It’s an event which is aspirational and inspiring. Lovely, just lovely!

Boston Frodsham

There was a small selection of layouts on display, Mike Knowles’ Boston Frodsham is always a pleasure.

Cavalex Models’ new class 56 on Boston Frodsham.

Beautifully modelled and the new class 56 from Cavalex Models was out on Boston and was looking absolutely superb – it ran beautifully on a set of Cavalex P4 wheelsets. It’s one of the best RTR diesel locomotives I’ve seen.

Colwyn Bay Goods in 2mm Finescale

Colwyn Bay Goods was another layout which didn’t disappoint, have a look on Instagram to see more about the layout.

Colwyn Bay – the appearance 2mm Finescale track and pointwork is always delightful!

I’m a huge fan of 2mm Finescale (I have a long term plan to model the former station in my village in 2mm Finescale) and Colwyn Bay is a great example of the scale – just look at the finesse of the track, it’s so satisfying. To be honest every aspect of the layout is superb, the stock is delightful too.

Colwyn Bay Goods in 2mm Finescale

I spent most of the day talking and catching up with many friends and modellers – with lockdown time seems to have passed so quickly and it’s frightening realising I’d not seen many people since those pre-covid days.

2mm Finescale class 40 on Colwyn Bay Goods – looks great, doesn’t it?!

Also just to say thank you to those who came and introduced yourselves – not only was it nice to feel like a minor celebrity but to hear you enjoy the blog and modelling was absolutely lovely!

Cowley Yard

Happy New Year!

We have got to the time of year when 2022 is ending and 2023 is creeping up on the front door! So, what did 2022 Bring us then! For us who model the early 90s to the late 90s a few things brought to the market got that caught our attention. The dropping of the Mic by Bachman at DEMU and having its new tooled class 37 on display and available to buy was unexpected to say the least. The new Bachman 37 really looks the part and for me I no longer do have to purchase shawplan etches and bust out the razor saws to replace the cab windows! As this area at long last is correct shame it’s had to be done in the about the 5th retool of the model.  Also, we saw some new liveries for the newly tooled Bachman 47 non now have floated my boat and this announcement has left me wondering what way to go with the current 47s that I have in my collection! 1st world problems eh!

Accurascale made a welcome announcement in that they were producing a class 31 with the layout being set in Northeast Lincolnshire these will be no strangers to the area with Immingham having a decent allocation of the class that saw gainful employment on Petroleum Trains from the Immingham Oil Refineries and the East Coast and Yorkshire Civil Engineer used them on Departmental Trains throughout the area. So, another 1st world problem do we shell out for a few of these new toys or carry-on tinkering with the 30 odd year-old Lima Tooled 31s??? The painted sample of the Irish Brian looks decent to be fair from what I have seen.

Wagons are a must and on West Halton they are without a doubt going to outweigh the loco fleet by some distance. This year saw the battle of the MGR’s with Accurascale and Cavalex releasing the wagons these are very much welcome for me as for a future project will heavily feature coal traffic and a lot of MGR Traffic (It played a massive part in my working life shifting the black stuff) and its always a subject that I have found really fascinating well for me anyway! Sadly, the Cavalex MGR’s suffered error when being manufactured and had be manufactured again and this delayed them by some months from coming to market. Accurscale won that battle if you can call it that but for me Cavalex won the war. These wagons are superb tooling dimensions are correct I measured one against the gate guardian at Knottingley and it is a scaled down version. The Accurascale MGR’s are nice but for me the wheel arches are just unforgivable and the molding line at the top of the hopper just to me spoils the overall appearance of the wagon.

Blyth & Tyne
Nothing More Iconic than a 56 heading with the handle wide open with a set of empties to go for reloading. 56117 “Wilton Coalpower” heads away from Freemans Crossing Blyth with 6H73 Empties from Cambios Power Station to Tyne Yard. (c) Douglas Johnson.

We also saw the Cavalax TEA, and second run of BBA’s hit the shelves I tret myself to the limited-edition ones that was done exclusively for Rails of Sheffield in Trainload Metals colours. These are on the workbench minus bogies ready to go in the spray booth when things warm up a bit more for a bit of light weathering. Also, the company released its Total TEA 100ton Rail Tank Cars and they are just like the real thing that are operating out Lindsey Oil Refinery today. I purchased a triple pack for West Halton the odd one will show up on T99 Cripple Tripper moving green carded wagons back to the wagon shops at Immingham for repairs, like the BBA’s these wagons are waiting to get some brown, black and light n dark orange paint splashed on them when it gets a tad warmer.

Petroleum Sector Tug On The Rectory Tanks.
A Fairly new 60003 is heading back to Lindsey Oil Refinery with 6E82 Tanks from Colwick with TEA’s that are the inspiration for the Cavalex Model at the front of the train. (c) Neil Harvey

Another item that got us excited was the cracking etches produced by Stenston Models/Wills Workbench the detailing etches for the Cambrian Kits SPA is superb. James W has been particularly excited by these etches and this kick started him finshing off some SPA’s that he has had in various states for some time the instructions once downloaded are clear and concise and the etches more or less build themselves they are a really welcome addition. We hope to finish off at least another 12 if not more of these wagons for West Halton. We are hearing tho on the jungle drums that an Irish Manufacturer has these wagons on there radar! But who knows KR models could produce them as well…..

So, what progress has been made this year then on the layout… Well James W has knocked up a load of SPA wagons and superbly weathered them and he has built the 1st Building for West Halton a LNER Platelayers Hut. 10 Years on since the concept of West Halton was 1st dawn in up in the nooks and cranny’s of Gilberdyke Jn Signal Box (RIP). We still have no base boards to work off they are built I have seen photographic evidence but not yet in our possession, but we are expecting them at Christmas… Not yet sure what year yet tho!

This I have found really frustrating and for a guy who normally lets things ride it has got under my skin a little. As these have been paid for and during lockdown 2, they were more or less ready they have been built through a contact of James W and various reasons has slowed the delivery of these boards to us. For next time I think the likes Tim Horn Laser cut boards will be bought they are modular and to be fair I have not heard a bad word said about his workmanship or quality of the baseboards. So we have some wagons to run a few locomotives but no track to run and operate them on.

You may think I am being very harsh; you might be right but 10 years on into the project I would and had hoped to be further on than what we are with it. We both work shifts, and they are 12hr shifts so we both get plenty of time off with suitable time when we could do something admittedly, I do not have the family commitments that he has but as the layout is based at GC HQ at Cherry Burton this, I would have hoped would not be too much of a problem to arrange some modelling time.

I’d also like this blog to be used for its intended purpose and that is to chart the progress of this modelling journey of 1 skilled modeller and 1 who is building his skills and venturing into finescale for this and future projects. Largely this outlet has been used for that showing what’s going off and what’s gone down and the state of projects but from time to time it loses its way and ventures down a more personal path and myself I would like to keep this for its intended purpose. You may think this cold and not very supportive, you really could not be further from the case but only the other person will be able to confirm or deny that one!

So, 2023 is looming ever closer and I hope that what ever projects that you are working on it is successful and brings you hours of enjoyment. For us I desperately hope that we get the base boards during 2023 and we can start nailing track down and building up points and creating the art this is a model railway.

I am looking forward to seeing the OTCM boys progress on the projects that they are working on the 1970s Dreary Wednesday in South Yorkshire and unnamed late 1990’s EWS inspired one. Also I have seen two brothers working a layout based on Greenford West London this is turning into something special with the LUL Lines running beside the National Network its shaping up to be a great project even if it is a bit late for my modelling tastes its set circa 2008-2016 and finally for the past year I’ve been hooked on following modeller from the USA who is a fantastic modeller with his River Road Shelf layout that is looking on point, check out Boomber Diorama on You Tube his modelling is brilliant inspirational.

One thing that I am really looking forward to coming to the shops in 2023 is the Cavalex Grid! Seeing the EP and Painted samples I am looking forward to seeing and owning a few of these they look awesome!!

So, from me suffering with a lack of modelling mojo and frustration, I hope you have a great 2023 that happy healthy and prosperous in these tough times that we are going through.

Peace out!

James S and W

Eileen’s Emporium

Yesterday The Scalefour Society confirmed that Eileen’s Emporium had gone into liquidation.

Eileen’s has been a significant supplier for those of is in the hobby at the finescale end of the hobby and those who like to make things. A superb range of plastic and metal sheets, shapes, strips and rod all in one easily accessible place, plus tools and kits. I’ve been a regular customer at shows and online.

The hobby could continue if one or two of the big RTR manufacturers went under bit without the cottage industry which has supported railway modelling for a hundred years the creative and practical side would struggle.

It’s a great loss but I wish Derek Russan and all those at Eileen’s Emporium the best at what must be a terribly stressful time.

First Building

Making the window over the printed Roxey original.

The first building is taking shape, an LNER concrete P-way hut from the Roxey Mouldings kit. I built it a little while back, just for a little change I suppose. It’s a lovely kit, the castings, it’s white metal, are very nice indeed. The window isn’t so good, it’s not bad I suppose but the printed window just isn’t as nice as the rest of the kit. So while I thought about it, the kit was put to one side – it turned out to be to one side for quite a long time.

Some time ago in Model Railway Journal Barry Norman and Geoff Kent, in issues 206 and 210, both describing the use of Limonene (also referred to as DL-Limonene) as an alternative to M.E.K/butanone for certain tasks as Limonene evaporates much more slowly than butanone, a property which also seems to prevent warping too. I bought some via eBay some time ago and gave it a try on various things but this was the first use in anger.

The windows (I made more than one!) used Evergreen 15 thou clear styrene as a basis with Evergreen strip, Slater’s or Evergreen 10 thou sheet cut into strips and Slater’s 10 thou rod.

For the first one used I’d used 10 x 20 thou strip for the frame and 10 thou square strip (cut from sheet) for the window bars but this looked much to substantial when compared with the real thing, see below.

The prototype, photo courtesy of Mick Nicholson.

So the second version used 10 thou square strip for the upright bars and 10 thou rod for the horizontal ones.

The printed window at the top, below the two windows, the final version being on the right.

The slow drying nature of Limonene means you need to be careful when handling items before they’re completely set. If you look at the window on the lower left, you’ll notice one bar is damaged. This was a result of trimming the waste plastic before everything was fully set – so a third and final version was made. This time I used 10 x 40 thou strip for the side s of the frame to get a better fit in the rebates cast into the side of the hut.

The window trimmed and ready to paint.

The window immediately looked much better than the printed window or my own first attempt.

Test fitting – the appearance is much finer than the printed original.

Painting was a faff – freehand could ruin the fine appearance so I masked the window panes and then painted the frame. I think the result was worth the effort.

Ready for fitting.

I used a mix of dark grey (Humbrol no 67) for the first two coats – I stippled the paint on so as not to allow it to seep through the masking tape. After the second, some dark umber weathering powder was applied to the still tacky paint. The following day a coat of light grey (Humbrol no. 28) was dry brushed over the top to suggest it had once been paint.

The window fitted in place.

Once the window was secured in place I think the extra time spent on what many might consider a small component definitely worth the effort.

SPA Wagon Details

For anyone looking to model SPA wagons, these close ups might come in handy.