Tag Archives: model railways

Where does the time go?

Hello, remember me? I know. It’s been a long time, but I don’t always have time to keep the blog updated. When I worked at a desk, pushing pixels about all day, then it was easier. Now, I’m pushing bits of metal and plastic about at a workbench, and I rarely sit at the desk even to deal with my email!

So, what’s been happening since my last post? Quite a bit, really. I’ve almost completed two commissions, spent a weekend at a big model railway exhibition up in the Midlands—and came back home with three new commissions to add to the pile—and spent a bit of time sorting the house out.

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On the modelling front, I’ve been doing some personal stuff to do with my ongoing—lifetime? It seems like it!—Battle of Britain project. Airfix has been helping out in this 75th anniversary year by producing some useful vehicle kits (and a slew of new aircraft kits) in the correct scale, one of them being the towed oil bowser here. The tractor is from Flightpath, and was a fiddly but ultimately satisfying cast and etched kit of a Fordson tractor. I now notice Flightpath has introduced the bowser as well, complete with the tractor.

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A couple of kits that have been lurking around the bench for several years also saw some progress. The Albion refueller on the left is typical RAF airfield fodder from the early Second World War; the Crossley breakdown and workshop lorry is less so, but still makes a nice model. The difference between 1/72nd and 1/76th scales becomes apparent here, as the Crossley is the latter, which makes it slightly under scale compared to the Albion.

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Meanwhile, the L&YR Aspinall saddle tank was lettered up, by client request. I delivered it in this shiny form at Telford earlier this month, at the Gauge 0 Guild convention. I looked away and when I looked back it had been weathered by my fellow weekend demonstrator, who goes by the name “Dodgy” Manton. I ought to have taken a picture! A fine job he did, as well.

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This beast is a GWR 5200 Class 2-8-0T, which has been passed to me as a “finish it for me” commission. This is as far as my client got, so I really don’t have a lot to do to complete it.

(Famous last words…)

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At the other end of the GWR spectrum, another broad gauge 6-wheeler has rolled out of the works. It needs a little weathering, but is otherwise complete. My next build for this client is something a little larger, so watch this space.

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Another commission nearing completion is this WD 2-8-0. It’s a big old model, and is just waiting for me to pluck up the courage to make it look dirty. This type of loco was pretty famous for being anything but clean when in service, so I need to break out the weathering and get it looking used.

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Finally, a fairly ropey photo of an ex-GWR Crocodile G trolley wagon, which I built up from a kit I’ve had in the personal stash for several years. I realised I needed some completed models I could show when demonstrating at exhibitions, preferably ones which were going to hang around for a while and not be passed on to their proper owners as soon as they are finished! I have several wagon and coach models I plan to try and complete for showing off purposes, and pragmatically I have opted to build them to 0 Gauge fine scale rather than ScaleSeven, in case someone makes me an offer to buy.

As I have two almost complete builds now, I am considering which models come next in the pecking order. Currently on the bench is an early diesel loco, and I ought to consider beginning construction of three coaches that have also appeared. As I type, I have something like a year’s work, which is satisfying and scary at the same time.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I am a professional modelmaker, specialising in 7mm scale (0 gauge) models. I try to keep the showcase section of my web site updated regularly, and my Facebook page is also worth a peep if you are into that sort of thing.

Meanwhile…

Various workbench builds are moving slowly towards completion. The latest is a Just Like The Real Thing Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 0-6-0 saddle tank, built out of the box without any special Heather Kay extras as an exercise in updating the instructions.

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It’s too shiny, but that will be down to a potential new owner to sort out, hence the lack of company markings or loco number.

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.

 

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!

Catching up

Hello. It’s been a while, hasn’t it. Sorry about that, but I’ve been busy. Larking about updating blogs has been fairly low on the agenda. I have been updating the social media stuff, but this blog needs a little more time and thinking about.

So, what have I been up to?

NBL Type 2

Well, Just Like The Real Thing asked me if I’d like to demonstrate building their kits at one of the biggest O Gauge shows in the country. With all expenses paid, who could refuse an offer like that? At the same time, they were to reveal a new diesel loco kit, and I got to build the show stand version, which you can see above.

The weekend was quite successful. I think I picked up a couple of new clients—which was part of the exercise—and had a good old chat with friends old and new. I think we may do it again.

WD tender

I set about this tender, which matches an Austerity 2-8-0 which I have yet to begin. This build was an exercise in refreshing my head after some tussles with the coach kit lurking behind it. There are still unresolved issues with that build, but I think I can see a way forward.

BG van

Fun and games have also ensued with a GWR broad gauge passenger luggage van build. This is proper old school modelling, as it used to be back in the 1970s and 1980s. The basic body shell is provided by the Broad Gauge Society, but the underframe, suspension, door handles, couplings and plenty more, have to be sourced from various suppliers. The underframe has been built, dismantled and rebuilt several times, and I think I’m almost happy with it now. I’ve finally got the body parts soldered together, and some thoughts are forming about how to tackle the roof. The client is happy, and seems intent on sending some more kits my way—so I think it’s time I set up a dedicated broad gauge test track to make sure things are running nicely.

On a similar tack, and a similar vintage to the broad gauge vehicles, I was commissioned to “breathe my magic” on three Slater’s GWR 4-wheeled coaches. They had been acquired second-hand, and came in various stages of completion. One was unbuilt, one was mostly built, and one was, quite frankly, a basket case.

Deans (1 of 4)

Deans (2 of 4)

This is the unbuilt kit, or rather was the unbuilt kit. I’ve made up the underframe and begun the body work. It’s helped me understand how the kits go together so I can disassemble the basket case and make it properly.

Deans (4 of 4) Deans (3 of 4)

This is various parts of the basket case. I’ve stripped the model down, stripped some frankly appalling paint off the body, and retrieved most of the underframe components for cleaning up and repairing. The plan is to get all three models to more or less the same state of build so they can be painted as a batch.

That’s just some of the work I’ve been up to lately. I haven’t mentioned the diesel and electric locos being worked on, or the ready-to-run diesels waiting for the client to source detailing parts, or the steadily growing waiting list of commissions that should see me busy well into 2015!

In the meanwhile I’ve found time to revamp the web site, although it needs some work to make it play properly with mobile devices. You can keep up with me on Twitter (@snaptophobic) and Facebook (search for Heather Kay Modelmaker), and I am a regular poster on the Western Thunder forum.

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.