Sunday, 21 September 2014

"Thompson B3/3…tender finished, new chimney, on home straight"

I've been working on a model of Thompson's B3/3 since early 2012 by my reckoning. She gets pulled out of the sidings every so often for a little more work to be done on her, but things have suddenly shot forward in no small part thanks to the Great British Locomotives issue no.16 - Butler-Henderson.

As you can see from this comparison shot, the GBL Butler-Henderson has donated its chimney to the proceedings. Overlaying the Great Central type chimney from this model on my Isinglass B3/3 drawings showed them to be a much better match than the original B1 type chimney (as seen behind). The difference in the width and the curvature of the chimneys is apparent.

In order to fit it into the smokebox, a much larger hole had to be drilled - unlike the chimneys you can get after-market, normally in white metal or turned brass, the Great Central type chimney had to be counter sunk to fit properly into the smokebox.

Having done this, I applied some Humbrol plastic filler and after drying out and hardening, used a glass fibre brass to smooth it all done. For good measure, I removed the Peppercorn A2 number from the cabsides and filled in the nameplate holes from the B1 body shell's smokebox sides.

Couple this with the Great Central tender - now in plain black - and once all put together, the model is getting tantalisingly close to completion. Some soldering and wiring aside, I need to fit all of the splashers (now cut out and ready) and sort out a set for the inside of the cab to cover the rear driving wheels. Lamp irons and then painting…and weathering perhaps thereafter.

The chimney was the one part of the model which really did not look the part at all, and now with the Great Central replacement, I feel much happier with the model. In fact I'd challenge I've done pretty well given where I was when I started with this model.

That's it for the moment, I have a few things to attend to over the next few weeks but I hope to have more modelling updates some time soon.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

"Some budget modelling…and Thompson's B3/3"

It's been a strange few weeks. I turned 27 last week and had a great week at work, culminating in a lovely night out with some work colleagues on the Friday.

The sales of our book, Tale of the Unnamed Engine, hit a nice high with around twenty dispatched since we announced reductions in the price of the paperback.

My latest romance hit the buffers abruptly - sadly for me, it was not to be. She was a lovely girl and I am sure she'll find someone special, because she was - is - special. Just not me sadly.

And in modelling news, my budget railway modelling took a much needed boost this week with the release of Great British Locomotives magazine's latest model - Great Central Railway no.506, Butler-Henderson. The model is quite clearly an extremely good reproduction of the Bachmann model. The price difference is around £120 as this retails at £8.99…!

Overall, the model has a lot of modelling potential. Removing the moulded handrails and adding proper wire ones aside, the tender is the one item that will find use on layouts across the country.

The body shell unscrews from the moulded tender frames and die cast wheels, and can with no modification whatsoever be fitted directly onto the tender frames of a Bachmann GCR or ROD tender, as demonstrated ably by mine.

The body shell can be modified to screw onto the chassis quite easily by drilling two holes at the front and two at the back, and then screwing in the retaining screws from the original body shell. That's it job done!

The reason for this? Providing the correct (or I should say, more correct) pattern tender for my Thompson B3/3 conversion.

This model has been on the go for around two years and we are nearly on the finishing straight. I will be wiring up the tender pickups to the locomotive's chassis and finishing the body shell off in the coming weeks.

I haven't decided on whether it will retain fully lined out LNER apple green livery or be painted straight into plain black with LNER lettering on the tender and the number 6166 instead of 1497.

That was pretty much it, except for the renumbering and renaming of the Thompson B1 in the background, no.1039 C.M. Hollingbery on Thursday evening of last week. It'll remain as such for all the time I am its owner.

I hope to have taken delivery of a main range Hornby P2 in the next week, and I will be doing a short write up on the interesting four wheeled van you can just about make out behind the Great Central tender in the picture above…

Until next time, enjoy the last of the summer sunshine in September.


Monday, 1 September 2014

"Tale of the Unnamed Engine - price reductions effective immediately!"

Effective from today, the paperback version of Tale of the Unnamed Engine is now on sale for £5.99, a reduction of £2 exactly. This reduction in price is also met by a halt in postage costs. There will be no increases in postage for the remainder of the copies on sale.

We are now into the last few copies, so get your copy of the paperback while you can, because it is unlikely to be printed again for a very long time!

The eBook has also been reduced to £2.99 (Amazon charge an extra 9p on top of this as part of their fees, therefore the total price per download is £3.08 at present).

We are looking to clear all stock of the paperback book so that we can fill our storage space with copies of the paperback version of Book 2 (more on Book 2 later in the year).

I have refunded £2 to all of our customers who have purchased the paperback at the original, higher price in the last few weeks as a sign of good faith.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Recently I welcomed back an old friend. Bought in my youth for a mere £25 (and at the Bluebell Railway no less) no.1000 Springbok has never graced the pages of this blog, because she never actually worked! The split chassis mechanism was faulty from purchase (but to be fair, she was second hand) and for many years she adorned a small corner of my room at Loughborough University.

Having taken delivery of an excellent, up to date and new Thompson B1 from Bachmann, and discovering the new chassis would fit the old body shell, I made haste and bought a second to fit to old Springbok. Now for the first time she runs! However I intend to bring her into the 21st century a tad, and she is becoming the guinea pig for a series of modifications intended to bring my Bachmann B1s more into line with Hornby's.

The first change is to the buffers. They have been completely replaced by a set of Hornby's. The difference to the original buffers can be seen in the next picture, showing my apple green B1 spares which will eventually form part of a small fleet of four or five locomotives.

I intend on having a nice mix of electric lighting, and non electric lighting, named and unnamed B1s (none of the Hornby ones will be named, only two of the Bachmann ones will be). The transformation of the front end by simply replacing the buffers is too good to pass up and now all of the Bachmann B1s will have this modification from this point on.

Until next time - when I hope to be reviewing the most eagerly anticipated model of the year: Hornby's Gresley P2.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

"Books and model railway products"

Just a quick note to say that I will be closing the order book for Tale of the Unnamed Engine from Thursday, as a new pricing structure for all of our products will be coming into place from the 1st September.

We will be reducing the price on the paperback book in the run up to Christmas in order to clear our remaining stock. This potentially gives us some space for the next paperback book...

The model railway products will gain their own page in due course and more news on updated etches will come soon.

I have been very busy with work and family matters so please accept my apologies if any orders are currently running late. Any orders placed since the 20th of August and before the 30th August will be subject to the old pricing structure on all products.

Until next time.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

"The Permanent way…"

The next stage in the story of Mossflower Abbey/Little Ganwick* is a difficult one - laying the track. Seems easy at first until you remember that each section of the layout is removable.

I've used Woodland Scenic HO scale underlay. This had several advantages: firstly, it's about the right height and depth I want for the track bed, and secondly it came in two big rolls which covered the length of the five boards easily.

The underlay was stuck down using standard PVA glue. Before gluing it down, I used some double sided tape to hold the underlay in place, and a permanent marker to check the alignment of the track.

That in particular is important, as I will now demonstrate…

Each of the boards fits together using identical metal dowels.

Before separating the boards, I used a scalpel to cut the track bed cleanly. Each of the boards are now entirely separate as a result.

I numbered the boards 1-5. The centre boards 2, 3 and 4 are not just interchangeable, they are reversible.

Effectively, the layout can be set up as a 3, 4, or 5 board layout dependent on the size of area available to it. This means it is can also be extended in future if one so chooses…

The next stage is to lay some track and make when fitted together, all the track lines up perfectly to allow trains to run without any problems. This is the bit I am most nervous about as the track will also have to have wire droppers soldered and put through the baseboard to its underside. Could go very well, could also go very badly…!

Until next time, where we'll have an update on rolling stock I hope.

*I'm struggling to choose between the two names - perhaps Mossflower Abbey could be the main structure on the layout, and the layout could be called Little Ganwick? More on that next time.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

"A few modelling updates"

Evening all. I thought I'd do some railway modelling to cheer myself up. Not been feeling myself for some time as many of you will know, but I am getting better every day, and that's due in part mostly to one special person in my life at the minute. I am very grateful to her.

So to kick everything off: one London & North Eastern Railway long wheelbase covered carriage truck, or CCT for short. This is a Parkside Dundas kit and will get a weathered teak finish and some better couplings very soon to fit into one of my rakes!

Next stage: a brief review of Bachmann's current Thompson B1 model. The long and the short of it is that I've given up on Hornby doing an apple green B1 in my lifetime (!) so I bought a cheap Bachmann model instead.

This one depicts LNER no.1123 and has a superb chassis. The superior paintwork on this model really makes an old model look new.

I've dug a few older body shells out of my stock box and confirmed one thing is true: the older body shells will fit onto the new chassis by simply replacing the body and using the same screw. They are virtually identical bar the paintwork. That being the case, I am considering mixing and matching to get the locomotives I want.

These four B1s are all apple green, and have various detail differences between them. Utilising a modified Bachmann V2 tender (close enough to the Atlantic tender I will be portraying) is B1 no.1039, which will be made using another of the no.1123 models and a spare Mayflower body shell.

Springbok will be made the same way but keeping the tender of no.1123, and can be seen as the spare body shell with the red nameplates. These will be replaced with the appropriate etched nameplates in due course.

Finally, 61024 Addax will use the same chassis and tender, albeit keeping LNER on the tender but having a BR number on the cabsides and an etched numberplate on the smokebox door.

All of them will get a little modification that I am very happy with. The standard release from Bachmann comes with the awful plastic coupling that gives a huge gap between locomotive and tender.

No.1123 is now permanently coupled using nothing more than a Hornby Railroad Scotsman standard tender to loco drawbar and the screw which accompanies it to screw onto the tender.

The other end goes through the body shell opening under the cab, and between the loco body shell and the chassis to be permanently screwed in using the retaining screw which keeps chassis and loco body fixed together.

The result is something more appropriate in look.

So that's it from me, except to say that I've finally started laying my C&L track work! Which looks vastly superior to the old Hornby and Peco track I'd become accustomed to using in my modelling all these years. No going back now, I am on the first rung of a long modelling ladder and I will be doing all I can to improve on a monthly basis.

Next update I will hopefully be announcing something rather exciting officially for the first time. Watch this space…

Until next time.