Tag Archives: professional model maker

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.

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.

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.

IMG_7051

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.

On my workbench

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It’s been a while since I posted about the workbench, so here’s what’s been going on.

I’ve been battling—almost literally—with an LNWR motor train driving trailer, one of a pair of coaches which will be finished in the full LNWR livery of just after the First World War.

I ought to explain why it’s a “motor train”, I suppose. Branch line passenger trains would often be composed of a couple of coaches and a locomotive. To save the effort of running around the train so it could be hauled back up the branch, various companies built driving cabs into a brake coach, which let the loco driver control the regulator and brakes of the loco remotely. These types of train went by various names. The Great Western called them autotrains, on the Southern they were push-pull, on the Midland they were pull-and-push, and the LNWR referred to them as motor trains.

The coach here is a driving trailer, converted from a brake third compartment coach in the early 1900s. You can see the three windows in the end, and the extra pipework associated with the control system.

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It’s been a bit of a struggle, if I’m honest. The coaches I got from the client had been part-built, so I’ve been trying to preserve certain elements, while making suitable modifications and additions to suit the particular period. I have had to make some new parts from scratch, as well as make use of a copious “Bits Box” (where the alternative parts in kits get stored as they often come in handy later—every modeller has one). Sometimes, parts already fitted fall off due to handling. It’s been a slow process, and I’ve still got the partner coach to start…

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This is a view from underneath, showing the buffer springing and a lot of blobby soldering—some of which isn’t mine!

I really hope I can get these models moving now. They’ve been annoying me for a couple of weeks. Today I acquired some materials I can use to make the roof fit correctly, and I’ve been designing digital artwork for the interiors. This will be printed on decent paper stock, and save a lot of scratch building. I still need to scratch build the cab interior, acquire some suitable figures for both crew and passengers, and I haven’t quite worked out how to create the slightly complicated paintwork yet. I’ll get there.

In case you had forgotten, I am now a professional modelmaker. You can find out about my modelling services on my web site, and you can also “like” me on Facebook. Search for Heather Kay Modelmaker.

Diesel Brake Tender

Diesel Brake Tender by Snaptophobic
Diesel Brake Tender, a photo by Snaptophobic on Flickr.

I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but I like to blow my own trumpet occasionally. Built to S7 standards from a JLTRT kit for a client last year.

Don’t forget you can find out more about my professional modelling activities on my web site — heatherkay.co.uk. You can also follow me on Facebook, if that’s your thing. Search for Heather Kay Modelmaker, or just click through.

Nearly there

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Two quick portraits of one of the GWR Collett triplets I’ve been working on this past couple of months. This particular coach is a  corridor composite (in other words it has first and third class accommodation) to diagram E127, and the real thing was built in 1925. It’s depicted in the livery it carried until it was withdrawn and scrapped in the early 1960s. This model has just been through final assembly, where the sides, ends and roof are fitted together.

This coach will join the D94 brake third and C54 all third coaches that form the three models of this commission. Currently, on my workbench, I’m fitting the glazing to the C54, while the D94 has been completed bar some small details and quality control issues. Very soon, I shall be able to do the proper photography session for these models, and then deliver them to my client. I think he’ll be very pleased with them—I know I am.

In case you may have forgotten, I am a professional model maker. You can find out more about what I do by visiting my web site, www.heatherkay.co.uk.