Tag Archives: 7mm scale

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.)


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.


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.



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!






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…



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.

Raising the Standard

The LNWR motor train build was getting on my nerves a bit. It was taking too long to get little things done, and though I’d reached a stage where both coaches were more or less at the same point things were getting bogged down. Having got primer on the bodies, and with another build begging for my attention, I felt it was a good time to put things back in the box to refresh my palette, as it were.

Another reason for packing things away and starting on something else is I have a deadline for the new build. It’s a “finish it for me” build, after the client acquired a pair of part-built coach kits from a well-known online auction site. His original thought was they’d make a nice quick build, but he soon realised he wasn’t really going to be able to complete the models as quickly as he first thought. The models are wanted as a Christmas gift.

JLTRT Mk1 rebuild 2 (1 of 3)

I’ve been cleaning up the body sides, correcting errors, filling moulding flaws and so on. They’re in the paint shop now, letting the first coats of primer harden. I hope I may be able to get the first coat of the livery colour on later today. While things dry, I’ve been cleaning up some of the interior parts.

JLTRT Mk1 rebuild 2 (1 of 2)

Whatever adhesive the original builder used, it wasn’t the right one for the job. This pile of shards is the result of half an hour with various scrapers. The result of the scraping is a plastic tray with various bits I can now rebuild properly into an interior for a Mk1 (the “standard” of the title; what we now refer to as the Mk1 was originally referred to officially as the BR Standard Coach) BSK corridor brake third.

JLTRT Mk1 rebuild 2 (2 of 2)

Most of these parts will also be treated to some base coats of paint before I glue them together again. Taking on part-built or badly-built models like this and breathing my magic on them is all part of the service I provide.

As I type this report, another query has arrived by email asking me to quote for building a model diesel locomotive. I really don’t know how I will cope with the work, because I’m already considering projects that won’t really be started until next year! I am, frankly, amazed at how quickly things are building up, and this thrills and scares me in equal parts.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I am now a professional modelmaker. I build scale models of many things, for a fee. You can find out more about my modelling work at my web site, and if you are afflicted with the Facebook, you can search for Heather Kay Modelmaker and “like” my page.

On my workbench


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.


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…



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.

Nearly there



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.



What size is it?

In all the time I’ve been posting about the various model-making activities I do I have blithely assumed you will understand what I mean when I spout a scale at you. I’ve realised, of course, that many of you won’t have a clue how big something might be, even with the benefit of a scale ratio.

I’ve decided to adopt the idea, quite frequently used to identify scale in photographs, of using a coin as a reference. It won’t appear in every shot I take of my models, but when I think it needs clarification I’ll pop in specially trained British penny.

It won’t hurt to explain the scales and ratios a little better anyway. I’ll begin with the largest scale I work in, 1/43rd.

Collett Interior 1These figures appeared in an earlier post. They are to 1/43rd scale, in other words 43 times smaller than the real thing. I also refer to this as 7mm scale, which means 7mm on the model equals 1ft or 305mm in the real world. In the UK, this scale is also referred to as O Gauge.

Collett Interior 2

This Dennis Ace fire appliance is to a scale of 1/76th, 4mm to the foot, or OO Gauge.

Collett Interior 3


This Gloster Gladiator I is 1/72nd scale, or 4.233mm to the foot, which is an international standard scale for model aircraft. The scale is slightly larger than the British model railway scale of the fire appliance above. Interestingly, a larger “standard” scale for model aircraft, 1/48th, is slightly smaller than the British 7mm scale.

Don’t ask me why these variations exist. It gets worse when you compare railway modelling scales around the world. Let’s just leave it that I work to the British scales—at the moment. It’s a funny old world when you get down to scale modelling.


Monks Eleigh

I was asked to photograph Michael Brooks’ Monks Eleigh for the ScaleSeven Group’s newsletter. Monks Eleigh is a real Suffolk village, between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, but I can’t find any evidence there was ever a railway station in the vicinity. I guess I could ask the owner more about the genesis of his model!

The model railway is built to ScaleSeven standards, 7mm to 1ft scale. The railway is very much Great Eastern in character, though set in the early years of British Railways. While the layout is a fairly simple plan, there is much in the way of scenic detail.

I’d like to thank Michael for his time and patience during my visit.