October 30, 2011

"Goodbye Stephen the Green Engine - Remastered"

Two years ago I started remaking the original episodes of The British Railway Series so that Youtube users and fans could view the episodes in their original format, i.e. in one single video. At the time, my Youtube account had a limit on the length of video uploads, and all of the videos were uploaded in two parts, or specially cut to fit the ten minute limit.

Now of course, having a Youtube Partner account, I can have videos of any length (though the longer they are, the longer they take to upload!), so I have been working through the episodes and adding annotations, etc etc, to them to allow people to see them as they were originally intended when first made.

In this edition of "Goodbye Stephen the Green Engine" - the last episode to be made by the team - I have replaced the opening and closing titles, added music and generally tidied it up for a 16:9 release. I think it looks much cleaner than it did originally, and may have to re-do episodes 1-5 to match (minus the annotations).

See what you think at any rate, and comment on the video with your thoughts on the "remastering".

Until next time!

October 26, 2011

"New Banner to the Youtube Channel!"

I have been working on a new banner for the Youtube channel, firstly reflecting Dean Walker's excellent artwork, most of which is going into the first book in the series, and secondly reflecting the new overall look to the blog, channel and twitter page over the last year.

You'll see that Stephen, Herbert, Sir Ralph and Allen feature in the new banner, in Dean's magnificent artwork.

Please support the series and Dean by taking a look at his website, where his artwork, general commentary and photography can be found.

You can also access his artwork by clicking the picture labeled "NER Ramblings", in the left hand side column.

Until next time!

"New Page to the Blog!"

You will notice a new tab above this post which reads "The British Railway Stories".

The aim of this page is to explain the background behind the upcoming first publication and e-book of the companion books to The British Railway Series.

Stories is used instead of Series to identify the books separately to the Youtube videos.

Here's what the page currently reads:

The aim of The British Railway Stories is simple:

To educate and entertain in the same story.

It is pure History and Entertainment coming together to provide the logical step between the imaginary, and the history, for the 7-9 age group.

The stories, set in the 1950s, at Leeds, Copley Hill, were originally written as a made for Youtube Video Series (The British Railway Series).

Since the first video appeared on Youtube in 2007, the eighteen episodes of the series have been watched 3.3 million times, as of October 2011.

The series is being developed into an e-book, which will tell the stories in the way they were originally intended.

The final episodes of the model era will soon give way to a computer generated Machinima, showcasing old and new stories in a bright and colourful new format.

Simon A.C. Martin, the author, would like to be able to help preserved steam railways of the United Kingdom through dedicated donations from the sales of future books, perhaps based on the stories of the preserved railways themselves.

Please get in touch if you'd like to be a part of The British Railway Stories.

For these are the stories we tell...

Until next time!

October 25, 2011

"End of Great Northern"

Four years after I started my Great Northern conversion of a Hornby A1 (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here,), today the locomotive was broken up for spare parts, so I could have a second go at making a model of the infamous 60113.

I've been thinking on the model for some time: one of my earliest, most ambitious, and rubbish kit bashes I've ever done. My skills have got a weeny bit better since 2007, so I've decided to use whatever I can from the now defunct model to make a new one - hopefully much better than the old one!

However that project will wait in the wings for now, until the Thompson D class, the 4VEP, the Stirling Single and the Great Central D11 are complete, my four main priorities on the workbench at this point.

Until next time!

October 24, 2011


...something I am running short on. New job has started, I'm working hard, but behind the scenes certain pieces are falling into place, by the by.

I'm currently bringing the pieces together for a Thompson D Class 4-4-0, by using the incoming Hornby D49 as a base. A few spare bodyshells, a Thompson front bogie and tender all suitable for the rebuild. The only things I need to locate are the nameplates, and the smokebox door...

More on this conundrum as it develops. Until next time!

October 14, 2011

"More Projects"

I have a line of engines and rolling stock needing work. Finally having finished the painting of the LMS and the conversion of the three Hornby Clerestories, they are awaiting transfers and varnish to complete.

However I do like to ponder the possibilities every now and again, and there's two projects I have my eye on at the moment. The first is converting a forthcoming Hornby release - the Railroad D49 4-4-0 - into the lone D class Thompson 4-4-0, The Morpeth. I even have a suitable front bogie and tender ready for it!

The second one concerns the forthcoming new Bachmann V2, which is unlikely to get a body retooling but will have a much improved locomotive drive mechanism. So the thought is to use some Hornby spare parts to improve the section of the boiler needing the most work.

Pictures to follow later when the camera decides to behave itself!

October 11, 2011

"Youtube Like/Dislike Button: Meaningless"

It's always interesting to read the comments in Youtube videos nowadays and see the amount of emphasis placed on the like/dislike button.

The problem inherent with the like/dislike system is that people will generally thumb down anything because they feel like it. The patterns for what videos get thumbed down is normally random.

I'm writing on this because I've noticed on my own videos - and a few other similar channels - that we've had a whole spate of thumbs downs over the last few weeks. It can only be a few Youtubers going around thumbing down every single video, because it's almost across the board and only one or two thumbs down at a time.

Now, I could rant and rave and disable the ratings, but glancing at the number of "likes" I can see that the videos are very much liked by a majority of the viewers I have, compared to a minority of wholly negative Youtubers. For example, the latest round of reviews have a very respectable 50 or so positive "likes" and one or two negative "dislikes".

Unfortunately, sometimes people just feel like being negative. The like/dislike button on Youtube gives an outlet to those people who have no creativity of their own and only wish to enforce their negative views on everyone else.

So - probably my mantra for this year - don't let it get you down! And don't disable the ratings chaps, the Youtube search algorithm identifies this and puts ones without the ratings lower down the pecking order...!

October 08, 2011

"Merchandise Discussion"

On The British Railway Series' Facebook group, I recently steered discussion towards potential merchandising.

Among those which proved most popular were Gomm badges, calenders, mugs, T-shirts and posters.

These are all great ideas which I will go through to examine their cost to manufacture, deliver and then at what RRP (recommended retail price) I should sell them at to cover their costs.

The final suggestion - for a bit of fun - was a diecast toy of "W.P. Allen" in a style similar to the Take N Play Thomas range, as a one off collector's piece. Lots of feedback on this one, ranging from debate over the livery (apple green, blue or dark green?) to whether Allen or Stephen should be the character made...!

Suffice to say it's unlikely I'll produce such a model in the near future, but you never know...

As my job starts to pick up again, and the funds start to become available, "Project Wedgwood" is next in the queue for being worked on - this will be the new integrated website for the Youtube Series and Book Stories.

Until next time!

October 05, 2011

"New Thumbnails for Youtube"

One of the little jobs which has hounded me for several years has been the thumbnails on Youtube. They drive me to distraction - moreso now that Youtube's new interface, Cosmic Panda, is coming closer and closer to being the standard format.

The advantage gained, however, is larger thumbnails which allow more detail in sharper focus.

The above shows the new thumbnail for The British Railway Series: Episode 1, a case in point.

It allows some of Dean's beautiful artwork to be seen more (and links to Dean's artwork will start to appear in all of the video descriptions in due course), adds some colour to Youtube's search results (always a good thing), and also allows me to tell you what episode it is by placing an "Episode Tag" in the top right hand corner.

I'll be updating all of the videos over the next few weeks to one of five templates, as above, with different coloured backgrounds and numerals in the Episode Tags. Watch out for them! Until next time.

October 04, 2011

"Rant of the Week: Weathering!"

Weathering is a very, very personal thing. What works for one person will not work for someone else. However, there are some bits of weathering which look more real than other bits of weathering.

I am not a weathering expert. I'm also not very good at it! Take this, one of my early attempts at weathering.

Horrendous, isn't it? Far too orangey for a working locomotive. However good I thought it was at the time, it certainly isn't that great now - in fact it's rubbish.

So a few years down the line, I did some modifications to this model and took the opportunity to wipe off most of the grime and do it all over again, culminating in this:

It's still not brilliant, but at least it looks more realistic than it did last time around!

I've always preferred using weathering powders to using paints and airbrushes, however the work of one particular chap on RMweb has caught my eye: for it looks very good. He's just finished working on a Thompson L1, and the results are absolutely excellent.

So, have I had a go with my airbrush yet? Not yet...! The fear of failure is outweighing the clear advantages of airbrush weathering.

However, I've done a little weathering in the past week on my Hornby 4VEP. See what you make of it:

I've even painted the black peak to the cab which Hornby had put onto the unit. The weathering has been done entirely with Tamiya weathering powders, with the gunmetal, brown dirt and rust powders all playing their part in making the bogies, chassis, and cab front look a little more work weary.

You'll notice that the orange cantrail stripe has to be repainted red - a job I finished doing yesterday. The roof vents are going to be replaced - as will the cab piping. I haven't yet figured out what to do about the corridor connection or the door yet, but weathering seems to mask most of the "wrongness" of the moulding.

Overall, I've still a long way to go in my weathering efforts, but whatever you may make of my progress (or lack of it!) over the years, it's still been a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Until next time, where I will have a few updates on some outstanding projects I have been working on for some years - including one in particular!

Unless today's announcement at the National Railway Museum, regarding their new 00 commissioned model, renders it redundant!

October 03, 2011


For years I have been despairing about fonts, logos, and generally the very plain look of the title cards I use in The British Railway Series episodes on Youtube.

Well, no more - because a friend has come up with a solution, which, dare I say it, looks utterly amazing.




Gentlemen, I believe the word is "stunned". It works in iMovie too, and in different colours!

When I go to remaster the original 17 episodes and the 4 short episodes this coming Christmas period, the new title cards will use this spectacular font. I'm over the moon: how utterly amazing it looks!

Now think how gorgeous Episodes 18, 19 and 20 will look with a proper title card...!

Until next time!