Tag Archives: modelling

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.

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.

Here’s the World’s Best Paper Plane Maker | Wired Design | Wired.com

Spend a few minutes having a look at this guy’s obsession.

Here’s the World’s Best Paper Plane Maker | Wired Design | Wired.com.

There’s also a Flickr photostream with plenty of photos. Impressive stuff. Bear in mind that many of the working items on the real aircraft have been replicated as working items in manila paper and glue.

On the home straight

The Mark 1 coach build is nearing completion. As I type the sides have been given a top coat of varnish to seal the transfers in place and protect them and the paintwork from handling.

Placing the transfers has taken me a couple of days to complete. The chosen livery has two colours, and the demarcation between them has fine black and gold lining. The way the colours split means two parallel rows of lining on each side, so eight sets of lining to do in total for this build.

I used waterslide transfers from a company called Fox Transfers. If you’ve ever built an Airfix kit, you’ll know what I mean by “waterslide”. You trim out the transfer you want and immerse it in water for some seconds, and then it slides from the backing paper into place on the model. The caveat with Fox’s product is it really does like warm water, and the problem then becomes how to keep water at a suitable temperature over an extended period. My solution involves an aluminium baking tray and a tea light!

The lining transfers take time, because you can’t simply immerse an entire length and expect to slide it off in place. Tangles and tears are guaranteed, so the method I use is to trim the lining down to manageable lengths, no more than about 40mm, and place them carefully along the coach side. It takes longer, needs a deal of patience (and a powerful magnifying lamp in my case), but the results speak for themselves. This technique also works across door and panel joins, rather than trying to push the transfer down into the gaps.

Once the lining was done, it was time for the running numbers. Again, Fox Transfers came into their own. I used a fine brush to guide each individual number into place, before gently dabbing excess water away with a cotton bud.

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Thoughts are now turning to weathering the models. My client requested a “slightly tired” finish, so I’ve been studying as many photos as I can lay my hands on to get a feel for how mainline coaching stock weathered in service. This is also an excuse for legitimately lounging about with a hot mug of tea, perusing lots of books!

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The publication of choice is currently Martyn Welch’s The Art of Weathering, published by Wild Swan. An excellent primer in the various techniques and tools required to achieve a realistic finish to scale models.

Currently, I am considering weathering the sides before I finally assemble the models. I can do the same for the roofs, ends and underframes. Once assembled, a unifying dusting can be applied if required.

I hope to document the process, so watch out for further posts.

I am a professional model-maker. I make models of all kinds, at all scales, and to all requirements. I currently have three more 7mm scale coaches and a 7mm scale locomotive in the queue for my workbench. Have a look at what I do over at my web site. You can also find me on Facebook: search for Heather Kay Modelmaker.

A little diversion

Having completed the Collett build, I decided to have a week or so just working on personal projects as a sort of break from railway models. I’ve got several very long term projects on the back burner—in fact, it’s getting a bit crowded back there—and just occasionally I shift one to the front for a bit to see if I can get it closer to completion.

One of those projects is a TSR2 diorama. The plan is to represent the first prototype XR219 sitting on the apron at A&AEE Boscombe Down, being prepared for its first flight towards the end of 1964. I have the aircraft, almost complete, just needing some final paint and the transfers applied. I have acquired some of the ancillary vehicles that are visible in documentary footage of the time. It is one of those vehicles I have been giving some attention this week.

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This is a Sentinel Mk1 aircraft tractor. It’s a 1/76th scale whitemetal cast kit from BW Models, and like the real thing weighs an absolute ton. You can see the paint is mostly complete, and I have fabricated a finer windscreen to replace the chunky frame in the kit.

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There’s a bit of paint detailing to do at the rear, to pick out lights and reflectors. Some protective varnish, some suitable transfers, and some subtle weathering, and this will be complete and can go back in its box until the diorama is created.

Just to give a sense of scale, here’s the highly-trained British penny doing the honours.

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Little Railways Need Little People

I spent yesterday painting figurines for the three coaches on my workbench. The models are meant to represent the condition they were in in the middle 1950s, and the client helped choose some suitable figures. There are about a dozen characters altogether. Here’s a selection.

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Bear in mind this James Dean lookalike is about 40mm in height.

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Yes, the paint is a bit rough in places, but the camera is a cruel taskmaster. Even working under a powerful magnifier, I couldn’t actually see some of these flaws. My other excuse—not that I need one—is the figures will be fitted inside a model railway coach, which doesn’t have any internal illumination. I think they’ll pass muster, even if my internal perfectionist complains.

I build models for people to make a living. Check out my web site where you can see more of the work I am doing, as well as past projects.

There it is!

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Lurking amid the detritus of my workbench, and taking about as long to emerge from its cocoon as the real thing, is TSR-2 serial XR219. 

Did you know the real aircraft, if they had gone into production and squadron service with the RAF were to be called Eagle? TSR, incidentally, stands for Tactical Strike Reconnaisance, being the key roles for the aircraft in service.

More upbeat, please

The real world seems to be heading ever further through the looking glass, and the temptation to blog about and comment on all the lunacy going on is a hard one to overcome. I had intended this year to be one where I wrote more about happier things, so let’s see if I can redress the balance a little.

As you may be aware, I enjoy most forms of transport. I love the history, the stories, the tales of human endeavour to go ever bigger, faster and higher. Having had a run of railway models I have been working on for clients and friends, I decided my modelling bench needed something a little more high tech. While my aerial interests tend to be firmly planted around 1940 for the most part, I do have the occasional flirt with things a little more recent—if you can call the mid-1960s “recent”, that is! It is easy to forget now, but in the 1950s and 1960s, Britain’s aircraft industry was world-beating.

Currently on my workbench, and not in a particularly photogenic state right now, is a 1/72nd scale BAC TSR-2. I am trying to go to town with this model. Thanks to various after-market manufacturers, the model has authentic cockpit interiors, the correct ejector seats, lifted canopies, wheels that are suitably bulged to give the impression of weight, more accurate engine details and crew access ladders. I have added extra detailing to the wheel wells, given an impression of the hydraulic pipework around the undercarriage, and generally pimped the whole thing. It is currently in bits going through several coats of paint before the decals are applied. 

I am never quite content to simply build a model in isolation. What I plan on doing with this bit of British aerospace history is to place it some kind of context. If you watch the following video (part of a four-part upload to YouTube), and head for around the six-and-a-half minute mark, you’ll see the only example of the TSR-2 to ever fly, serial XR219, surrounded by all kinds of ancillary equipment and vehicles on the apron at Boscombe Down. I plan to create a diorama to show the aircraft in just this situation—or near to it.

(Incidentally, if you can spare an hour and this kind of thing interests you, it is worth viewing the whole set of videos. It puts the story of the TSR-2 project in its historical context. The elderly chap in the glasses is Roland Beamont, who was the test pilot on the project and also a Battle of Britain fighter pilot.)

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Amazingly, most of the vehicles and bits are available in kit form from BW Models. At one point, I reckoned I could spend over £100 from that source alone! I have reined back a little, and while I save my pennies and wait for paint to dry I am working out the best way to create the concrete apron.

I am not trying to recreate the exact scene in the grab above. I am sort of aiming for something that may have occurred a few minutes before the film was shot. The aircraft will have been towed into position, and I plan to have the tow bar and tractor having just unhitched. The protective covers over the engine intakes and exhausts will be in the process of being removed. The oxygen and power generator trolleys are being positioned. The refueller and the CO2 truck will be there, too, and probably a Land Rover or similar.

Now, quite what I am going to do with this diorama—which will probably be almost a metre square—remains to be seen. Once I’ve photographed everything, the vehicles and aircraft will end up in the display cabinet, but the rest will end up in storage. Perhaps one of the museums might like it for display…

Another might-have-been of the British aircraft industry was the Fairey Rotodyne. I have a kit for one of those stashed away somewhere. Current ideas revolve around the “what if” had the RAF adopted the aircraft as originally envisaged in the late 1950s.