Shock news: SPV gets attention!


This is a BR 12 ton insulated fish Van. Made by Parkside Dundas. In the 1960’s when the fish traffic declined, many of these wagons found new use as parcel wagons classified as SPV – Small Parcel Van and later NRV under TOPS.

My wagon has been sat in its box while the layout has been developed, however, as I was having a wagon and stock building blitz, I thought I ought to try to get this one finished. There was some additional brake parts to fit and while the body had been painted, the chassis was still in primer and the body actually had a few blemishes. I gently rubbed the blemish spots with a fibre glass brush and gave the body a light dusting of BR blue paint and left it to dry.

My modelling mentor (and fount of all knowledge) suggested that I should sponge the roof area of wagons to give a varied and visually textured finish. Having found a piece of soft foam, I painted the roof again with a mix of grey and black paints from a can and blended them together with the sponge. I have to say the man was right, using the sponge does provide a much more interesting finish than a simple smooth spray can approach. I think I might have to give all my other box vans the same treatment now!

Once the body was dry, I began brush painting the chassis with matt black. The final stages include transfers, varnish and weathering – but possibly not in that order!


This example of the SPV belongs to one of our exhibition team, Graham Minshull. I hope I can get my SPV to look as good as this!


TTA update.

Progress on the TTA wagons has been swift and enjoyable. I have also been helped by the internet which is a great source of reference pictures. Paul Bartlett’s site really does help you look for the wagon you are modelling and gives you lots of ideas for the weathering stage. It’s a site used by many well-known model makers due to its rich variety of wagons and rolling stock.

So I’ve managed to add all the right pieces and the coupling hooks and buffers etc. I’m almost ready for primer stage. Even as I type this though, I have realised that the vacuum pipes have not been added so I  shall do this next.

Having a good set of files and drill bits is essential when building any model but particularly important when using white metal parts or brass pieces. I even resorted to using my little power draper tool to file away some of the unwanted brass off the buffers but you do need to be careful with these, to avoid losing your fingers or filing away the wrong piece of the part you are working on. Despite the risks, I saved myself quite a lot of time.

When the paint stage comes, I tend to use acrylic primer from a large spray can. You can get various makes, but I am one of many who often go to their local Halfords or car parts shop. In the past I have purchased, grey primer, matt black and even bauxite red, which makes and ideal red brick colour for laser cut wood buildings. I now tend to make sure I always have one of each in my modelling materials cupboard.

Well, I better add those vacuum pipes now…

Little Lumps – Part II!

I’m impatient and that’s not a good quality if you’re into model railways as you need to be able to walk away from things sometimes, let things dry or stop fiddling with small parts while the glue sets. One day, I’ll learn my lesson, but I don’t think it will be any time soon.

As you know from my earlier lumpy posting, I wasn’t altogether happy with the little clay lump. As the clay finally started to dry, I felt it looked like, well…a lump. something needed to be done.

In addition to this, I looked at the area around the shed and the adjacent board and knew that I needed to give them some uniformity in the goods yard area, this was going to be tricky as one board had used a dark clay sprayed black and the other had used a white clay with black paint. I decided that I would cover the whole area with a mix of ash colour and earth fine soil material from Woodland Scenics and leave the ‘lump’ for its covering.


The yard was left to dry and this is where I start having problems. Waiting for glue to dry is like waiting for ever and I can’t help myself. So I decided to add the sand. Now I had a sandy lump! I was still unsatisfied. This wouldn’t do! I decided the lump had to grow. Maybe the sand was carelessly emptied from the wagon. Maybe it gets moved around when vehicles are loaded, maybe sometimes, it spills onto the track area. These thoughts gave me the opportunity to go a bit crazy with the sand and glue.

So after a lot of fiddling and looking and head scratching, I have ended up with this:


I think I can sleep better now, knowing that my lump has been attended to. I can also relax, knowing that once, the man with the static grass gismo has done his business I will be deliriously happy.

Now is that glue dry yet…


I got two – but only just!

When Christmas 2017 was approaching, I had that all too familiar conversation with my mother about Christmas presents. She was in a generous mood so I suggested that I would like a couple of new wagons to build.

In hindsight, I think I was lucky to get two Just Like The Real Thing TTA kits given what has since happen to Pete Waterman’s model railway business. Like many O gauge modellers, I was sad to hear what had happened to his business and hope that another venture will come along from the ashes of JLTRT and be a viable business for Peter or other persons connected with the hobby. The quality of the JLTRT kits was never in doubt but like a lot of people, I’m not sure if such a small business can compete with the likes of Dapol, Heljan or other well known brands.

I don’t have a lot of JLTRT products but those I do have a firm favourites, so it was with quite a bit of excitement on my quiet day off, that I decided to open the boxes and start my new TTA wagons.

These are not kits to be rushed. There is a lot of brass, white metal and the heaviest, solid tanks you could ever find!

In the next few days and maybe weeks, I shall post some pics of my new wagons as they emerge from a pile of parts. For now, I need to spend a few hours sitting in a different position without mentioning my back ache!

TTA – Day 2 – The morning after the night before!

Well there’s nothing like a good nights sleep to help the super glue set hard. I was being really impatient with the glue last night, which probably explained why the bonds were not firm. This morning however, everything is good and the wagon looks…well like a wagon. This will all be underneath and even though I know some modellers who just leave a lot of of the fiddly detail off because you can’t see it, I do feel I ought to try and make a good job of it!

Later in the day I shall attack the other wagon and try and get it to the same stage. Building two wagons at the same time is interesting and often good practice because you can get into a good batch building rhythm.


Don’t be square

I shall start to talk about my coal depot and how that came to be soon, but before I get into that, I just want to make sure that no one is a square! What I mean is this, try to avoid having straight lines of track parallel to the edges of your base boards. This is one of my pet hates and should be avoided if possible. I know that a good look at my current layout might suggest I haven’t followed my own mantra but the coal depot certainly follows this rule and has paid dividends visually.


The picture above shows the coal depot at a very early stage before the track had been glued down. Note how I have run the track at an angle rather than curve it inwards to straighten it up. It’s such a small touch but once completed, it really does make a difference.

If you’re still not convinced, just ask yourself what came first – the landscape of the track. Of course we know that in the real world the landscape came first, and in this country, lots of buildings followed in due course, so our railway engineers couldn’t always build straight lines. If we want realism, we should try not to be so square all the time. Go bendy for once, you might even like it!


Above Pic: My previous N Gauge Layout, George Street showing its flowing curves and curved platforms.

Picture shown with the permission of Chris Nevard

Tea, Two Sugars…

I’ve been making good progress on the recess for the Linesman’s hut. I’m no railway history expert but I guess railway workers would take shelter in the little huts often seen beside the line. In the narrative of my layout, there is one such hut before the tunnel going under the hills. The railway worker’s job would be to make sure that the line through the tunnel was always safe and in a good condition.


The recess for my hut was made while the structure of the hills was being prepared and is made from foam board edged with some left over laser cut wall sections. There is a gap at the bottom (which you can see in the picture) however, this will be made up with gravel and the normal weeds etc.

I shall be giving the wall some capping stones and weathering it all to give it an aged look. Given it’s already it situ I shall probably use the airbrush at some point in the future.


The line will also be protected by some line side fencing. The posts for this are already installed on one side and still needed on the other. I shall cover this another time…

Little lumps!

Having put in quite a lot of time on the hill and area around the tunnel mouth in recent weeks, I felt it was time to make a visit back to the goods shed to finish a few jobs that had been left. This involved the use of DAS modelling clay which has already been used in the coal depot – but more about that another time.

When I laid my track onto cork, the height of the track was raised by about 3mm. Not a major problem I thought, until the goods shed was built and nothing passed under its doors.

The solution was to raise the ground level by about 5mm. I did this with strips of balsa wood and foam filled board which has a thin layer of foam with card either side. This is great for modelling or arts and crafts and readily available from shops such as Hobby craft. This was then covered with a thin layer of DAS modelling clay and given some surface indentations and tyre marks before being painted black.


The unfinished goods shed showing the pieces of balsa wood being used to raise the shed as well as the foam board. 

Adding the DAS modelling clay made a huge difference to the area and made it visually far more interesting than a flat sheet of wood or board.


The picture above, shows the modelling clay fixed in place and drying. The goods shed has also had a bit of weathering applied with an air brush since the last picture was taken.

The adjacent board was painted to seal the wood before I put the new Das modelling clay down. Having purchased a sand wagon, I wanted to make a feature using this, so after laying a nice layer of clay to the baseboard, I made a large mound of clay and fixed this to the thin layer of clay. It looks ridiculous like a boil which needs to be lanced! This will be covered in fine sand to represent a pile of sand in the goods yard. I hope it doesn’t look so daft when it’s finished.


The area outside the shed has now been painted. Even a little static grass can really bring an area alive!


The goods yard and its lump!


Around the world in two days!

The thing about writing a new blog is you want to see if anyone actually looks at it. So I was rather excited to see if someone had actually looked at the humble beginnings of my new blog.

I couldn’t quite believe it. Visitors from the UK, USA and Australia! That’s quite cool and amazing to think that someone, somewhere in another part of the world could be looking at my modelling efforts.

Well thank you whoever you are and please come back and visit again!



My new Blog… Welcome!

Hi!  Welcome to my new blog. This is a new adventure for me as I’ve never ever showed my modelling off like this before. I was lucky enough to have my last layout – an N Gauge BR blue era layout – featured in Model Rail a year or so ago, however, I did not write the full text for this feature and the magazine made a conscious effort to avoid talking about how various parts of this layout were built, primarily because this has been done and continues to be done in so many monthly model railway articles.

In the last year or so, I have formed very important relationships with two fellow O gauge modellers, Graham Minshull and Kelvin Barnes.

I had seen Kelvin’s layouts for many years on the local exhibition circuit where I lived and always felt that they were head and shoulders above anything else on offer. They were not the biggest, but the quality of the layouts and the detail on every part of them including the engines and stock surpassed anything around. Quite simply, they were stunning.

It was only a year or so ago that this interest in his layouts developed into a more meaningful relationship after he was kind enough to acknowledge some of my abilities as represented in the George Street magazine article. This lead on to me being invited to help him operate one of his layouts at a local exhibition. Kelvin’s layouts are always in demand and was keen to accept my offer of help with the operation of his layouts. I loved his layouts so jumped at the chance to play trains with like-minded people. What a dream!


Kelvin has an excellent blog: and this is by no means a competition. If it was, I would lose because the quality of his work is incredible and his site is well established. It was however, Kelvin who encouraged me to start a blog to show off my talents and show some of my work off to a wider audience. So welcome to this blog. It doesn’t have a lot of content yet. However, it will grow and it will include more features on my layout and it’s stock and how the building of my layout is coming along.


The Princes Street coal depot.

Poringland – 10 March 2018

On Saturday 10 March, I went with my friend Graham Minshull to the Norfolk Railway Society Show at Poringland, Norwich. We should have been joined by our good friend Kelvin Barnes – a stunning modeller – and long-term member of the Norfolk model railway exhibition circuit. However, he was too poorly to be with us and was missed by us and many of his friends who know him in Norwich.

We were showing one of Kelvin’s layouts – Merlin’s Lane, a BR Blue era engine depot using DCC power and engines with sound.

Here are a few pictures from that day. The exhibition also featured the odd item of rolling stock belonging to Graham and myself as well as items from Kelvin,

I will continue to post pictures of these Kelvin’s’ layouts as we travel across   Norfolk and Suffolk. If you do see us, come over and say hello. I’m the young one!