Tag Archives: 7mm scale

Time flies

Is it really a month since my last post? That’s what happens, I suppose, when you get busy.

By busy, I mean I have work stacking up. Client commissions enough to see me through this year and well into the first quarter of 2016. That kind of busy. I really don’t know how I will do it, but do it I must.

Latest over the bench has been a quick build, relatively speaking, of a 7mm scale BR Mk1 four-wheeled CCT. These vehicles were used for the conveyance of cars, parcels, you name it. Anything that needed to be carried at express speeds. The model depicts a typical CCT in the 1970s—though you will note no lettering or weathering: the client will complete the build, so it’s been finished ex-works.

JLTRT BR Mk1 CCT (1 of 2) JLTRT BR Mk1 CCT (2 of 2)

 

It was an interesting build, being relatively simple. With help from friends, I worked out what the brake rigging was supposed to look like, and sourced custom laser-cut glazing to improve the appearance. I think it turned out well.

Meanwhile, the Austerity 2-8-0 build is ongoing, and I am also doing an “out of the box” build of a loco kit to help with reworking the instructions. Of course, I haven’t mentioned the increasing pile of kits that are clamouring for my attention. I’d best be off and stop wasting my time on the internet!

Something Different

My web site does claim I am able to take on commissions to build almost anything, and I have had the chance to prove that just recently!

Diesel Fuel Storage and Delivery Point Diesel Fuel Storage and Delivery Point

 

The storage tank is pretty much built as the kit designer intended, although I’ve modified the containment bund from brick to concrete. The delivery point only uses the various pipe and pump castings, with the base and shelter scratchbuilt to suit the client’s requirements.

An enjoyable diversion from my usual fare.

 

Latest Completed Commission

GWR Broad Gauge Coaches

 

The latest commission to leave the workshop is this pair of six-wheelers. To date, these constitute the oldest rolling stock I have had the pleasure of modelling. While the kits are relatively modern—the passenger coach kit is dated to 1985!—the real vehicles would have been in service in the late 1880s, on secondary and branch line services of the Great Western Railway.

Also of interest, in that geeky model railway kind of way, is these are models of broad gauge rolling stock. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, renowned engineer of the Great Western Railway and many other engineering triumphs of the Victorian era, insisted that his railway would eschew the “cart gauge” used by the Northern engineers such as George Stephenson in favour of a track gauge of 7ft 0-1/4in, to give smoother running. So-called standard gauge, still used to this day in the UK and around the world, is 4ft 8-1/2in.

The broad gauge was in use on much of the GWR system, including absorbed lines. The so-called “Gauge War” was effectively lost to the standard gauge in the early 1860s, and the GWR began to lay standard gauge lines and build standard gauge locos and stock. The last broad gauge train ran in May 1892. All the broad gauge stock and locomotives were dumped in a field outside Swindon—the engineering hub of the railway—to be either broken up for scrap or possibly rebuilt to the narrower gauge.

GWR Broad Gauge Coaches

This luggage van was built in the 1870s. While it has a guard’s compartment and lookouts, it is not a true brake van as later vehicles were, with no means for the guard to apply the vacuum brake from his compartment. Like many coaches of the period, it retains features from the earlier days of railway travel. Oil lamps for lighting, and a “dog box” at the far end where passengers’ canine companions could travel without mucking up the passenger accommodation. Originally built with only a hand braking system, many coaches were updated with automatic vacuum brakes during their service lives. This model, and companion coach, is built to a scale of 7mm to the foot, and has been painted to represent the van as it would have been towards the end of its life.

GWR Broad Gauge Coaches

This third class passenger coach is one of the more unusual aspects of the later broad gauge railway. Realising that eventually the broad gauge would end, and indeed with much of the network already being built to the standard gauge, or at least dual gauge, the GWR embarked on building coaches with standard gauge bodies but on broad gauge underframes. When the end of the broad gauge arrived, the plan was to take the coaches into the works and swap the bodies to narrow underframes, thereby prolonging their service life. Again, oil lamps light the compartments, though many coaches were later converted to gas lighting, and the automatic vacuum braking was added at some point during their service.

All in all, this has been an interesting commission for me. I have an interest in many aspects of railways, and I like to learn about the earlier history of what is probably the greatest invention of the Victorian age, but I’ve never actually wanted to make models of the period. With someone willing to pay me to build, I was always up for the challenge. Part of the fun, if you like, is the limited resources available to confirm details. The modeller is often left to their own devices, making educated guesses based on various known facts. There has been much head-scratching, a modicum of swearing, and a good deal of assistance involved in this build. The end results have turned out nicely, but there are features I wish I had done better. I’ll know next time: the client has ordered another three coaches, so there is ample opportunity for me to try and get it right next time!

During the build I have had copious help, freely given, from various modellers and historians of the GWR broad gauge era. Knowing I have more to come, I have accepted that the only sensible thing to do was to join the Broad Gauge Society. At least I can then access more information directly, rather than beg, borrow and plead!

With the workbench clear of Victorian oddities for a while, I am concentrating on the builds that had to be postponed in order to deliver this pair. Back to the mid-20th century for me!

The latest to leave the workshop

Dean 4-wheelers (1 of 8)

You might recall I was working on a threesome of Slater’s GWR 4-wheeled coaches. I finally completed them, and they were delivered to the client a week ago.

Dean 4-wheelers (3 of 8)

This coach was probably the worst. It came to me as a badly-built and badly painted model. I had to disassemble it, and strip the paint, before I could begin to make it into something half decent. The model is a Diagram T34 Brake Third. All the models are completed in the late 1920s GWR coach livery.

Dean 4-wheelers (6 of 8)

This is a Diagram V5 Passenger Luggage Van, otherwise known as a full brake. It had been mostly completed by the previous owner, but needed a bit of dodgy paintwork stripping, and the roof detailing completed.

Dean 4-wheelers (8 of 8)

Finally, the one kit that hadn’t been started—a Diagram U4 First/Third Composite. These vehicles were originally built as First/Second class, converted into First/Third in 1907, and by the mid-1930s had been converted to all-Third. This one happened to be one of the last to be converted to all-Third—no, really, I checked—so we could get away with the First class compartments.

I have to say I grew rather fond of these models. As kits they went together pretty easily, and only needed one or two extras to make them into something special. I am pleased at the way the livery turned out. Although not the most complex livery the GWR ever used, it certainly got me to attempt some new methods to my skill set. There are things I would do better given the chance to do it again, but that’s all part of the process of learning. I like to think that every build teaches me something new, and stretches me to do better.

The bench is currently home to a timber plank, upon which I am building a multi-gauge test track. I have several GWR broad gauge models to build, and I need something to test them on! I am also trying to work out a sensible schedule that lets me make progress on the increasing pile of work that’s coming my way. It’s great to be busy!

One down, several to go!

GWR 0-6-0PT 5700 Class

That’s the Pannier build done. There are things I wish I’d done better, there are things wrong I can’t correct now, but for better or worse it’s finished. It looks like a 57, and most people seem pleased to see it. I plan to deliver it to the client at the end of this month.

For those that care about the details, it’s a GWR 5700 Class 0-6-0PT, built in 1930 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow. The model represents 7752 as it may have appeared in the mid-1930s, so details and livery have been researched—with help from my friends, as I am not a follower of the GWR—to match the period. The actual loco still exists and runs in preservation, currently in the guise of L94 in London Transport livery. The etched plates come from various sources: works plate from Severn Mill Nameplates; number plates from Guilplates; caution plate (in the cab) from CPL. Transfers are from CPL, paint from Phoenix Precision, wheels and motor from Slater’s Plastikard, the crankpin nuts are from CPL (they don’t have a web site, sadly) and the crew from Heroes of the Footplate. The kit itself is from Just Like The Real Thing.

The workbench is now being cleared to make room for the next commission in line, which ought to be a larger steam loco, or possibly a GWR broad gauge passenger luggage van. Decisions, decisions.

The first step

20140509-155507.jpg

I was talking with a kit manufacturer the other day. I was after a missing component, but we fell to chatting about life, the universe and kit building. During our conversation, the manufacturer told me I was a worrier.

The idea had never struck me before, but he is right. I worry a lot, not just about the models I find myself building, but let’s concentrate on the modelling.

I am currently part of the way through a commissioned build. It’s an etched metal railway coach kit. It is a carefully-designed kit, with many, sometimes very tiny, parts. You can see some of those very tiny parts in the picture above. The kit range has a reputation for being amongst the best there are, and I felt a degree of trepidation about taking it on. It would be bad enough if I was building for myself, but building for a client—even one I have worked for before—was enough for me to worry.

I worried about breaking something, or getting it wrong. One false step early on might have repercussions further in the build, perhaps at a point where it would be impossible to rectify. I worried about doing the kit, and my client, justice. I worried about what the manufacturer might say (we have some ‘previous’, you might say). I worried about actually beginning the build.

I busied myself with research, finding as much information as I could. I tried to find many ways of putting off the moment when I would have to cut the first component from the etch fret. Eventually, however, I had to take that first step.

It was fine. Of course there were moments when I thought it was all going wrong, and there were one or two close shaves. It’s inevitable that problems arise along the way. But that’s part of my job. If I like to call myself a professional modelmaker, then I have to be able to deal with this stuff.

20140509-155534.jpg

The model’s underframe, now mostly complete and painted, is not quite as the manufacturer intended. At the client’ request, there are modifications to the brake gear, extra details on the frames and the buffer beams, and different bogies to those the manufacturer intended. I’ve added to and modified some parts, and scratch built others, all in the pursuit of “getting it right”. The journey has been enormously entertaining, tempered by moments of frustration. I have learned a good deal about the real thing, as I have battled to represent it in miniature. I have learned a lot about this particular range of kits, too.

I have to begin work on the coach body soon, but having completed the underframe I find myself prevaricating once more. I know, however, that as soon as I take that first step, it will probably turn out okay in the end.

Another build completed

I have just completed—aside from some quality control issues—the LNWR motor train. IMG_7425

Delivery will be early in February, when there’ll be an opportunity to see them running on a group layout.

Time now to clear the bench, get some proper photography done of the coaches, and then tidy things for the next build to commence. Perhaps now would be a good time to tidy the corner of my workshop and get the new bench set up? Not sure about that. I don’t have a good track record with rearranging work spaces.

I’ve belatedly updated the web site with some testimonials from clients. I had meant to do it at the turn of the year, when I refreshed things anyway. I completely forgot to add the nice comments I’ve received. Blame it on the festive spirit. </joke>

I have a good set of jobs to keep me occupied on the workbench for the next couple of months. I am always on the lookout for new builds, so if you happen to know anyone in need of my building services, please let them—and me— know.

More small people

The client for whom I am building the LNWR motor train liked the idea of some suitable figures to populate the coaches. Here they are, in detail you may never see again once they are installed inside the train. To fill in some background information, the train being modelled would form a connecting service from a London & North Western branch line “somewhere in Metroland” to a Metropolitan Railway service into London.

(Yes, I do have a tradition of naming the characters that I model. It adds a bit of fun to the proceedings. Giving plausible identities to what can sometimes be disparate model figures also helps me when I’m decided on their colour schemes.)

IMG_7320

Two City gents, Lesley Masterson and Eustace Farquar, study their morning papers, while a Miss Emily Brownlow catches up on some light reading. Charles Timpson looks a bit the worse for wear, probably after a night out on the town with his old school chums.

IMG_7321

Sir Christopher Beardsmore-Lewisham, a well-known eccentric landowner on this line, seems intent on being very naughty with Mrs Agatha Frensham, widow, intent on a day in London with her oldest friends – and not Sir Christopher. Mr and Mrs The Hon St John Singleton-Featherstone appear to be on their way to the city for an evening at the theatre.

IMG_7322

 

Private Arnold Crump and Lance Corporal James Trent, of the 42nd Light Foot & Mouth, are making their way back to barracks, having completed their mission escorting a military prisoner to Colchester. The other two escorts have gone off on a 48-hour pass for some well-earned time with their sweethearts. Driver Albert Barnes is a regular on this branch, working on lighter driving duties after nearly forty years on the Nor’ Western, man and boy.

Current build progress

I’ve been so busy, I’ve been neglecting updates here. This is probably a good thing, as it means I am so busy at the workbench I am not tempted to waste time footling about on the interwebs.

For a long time, the LNWR motor train build has been bumbling along, with no real apparent progress to show. Then, all of a sudden, there’s paint being sprayed about and I’m within sight of seeing the both models finished and delivered!

IMG_7285 IMG_7286Both coaches and their underparts reached a point where primer had been applied.

IMG_7306 IMG_7305Then, before I knew it both roofs were ready for priming and painting.

IMG_7307Then the paint shop got really busy. Both underframes were painted and varnished, and both body shells had their first coats of LNWR carmine lake applied over a black undercoat.

IMG_7312Before I knew it was Saturday, both bodies had white undercoat applied to all the upper panel work. 

Things are beginning to look a lot like LNWR coaches now. The next stage, once the white undercoat has had a second coat applied, is to paint the “spilt milk” on the upper panel work. Then, lining needs to be done—by hand, as there is no real alternative—followed by the transfers. Then I need to get the interiors fitted out, complete with passengers. There’s still a lot to do, regardless of appearances.

2013 was my first year as a professional modelmaker. As I type, I have two more commissioned builds to start in the new year, another lined up for later in the year, and I’ve quoted for another. There’s a fair chance of a steady flow of models to be built for 2014. You can find out more on my web site, follow me on Facebook, and of course keep up here when I find a spare minute or two!

 

 

 

 

Finished!

The final details and spots of paint have been applied. The BR Mk1 build is complete.

These are the “official” photos for my archives. I plan to take the coaches to an exhibition in a week’s time, where I hope the kit manufacturer will be pleased to have them on display for a spell. Nothing like free publicity—which reminds me I need to design a business card…

BR Mk1 TSO BR Mk1 TSO BR Mk1 TSO BR Mk1 BSK BR Mk1 BSK BR Mk1 BSK

 

The images aren’t up there yet, but do check out my web site at www.heatherkay.co.uk for information about my modelling services. I could also do with a handful of likes to my Heather Kay Modelmaker page over on Facebook, which will tip me into being able to see what the traffic on the page is like. How exciting.