June 24, 2012

"A4 Conversion Test Etches - Part 2"

For some time I had wondered whether I was always going to be an "also ran".

By that, I mean someone who is happy to buy ready to run engines, have kits built for them, even maybe weathered for them, and on occasion produce a diorama of sorts which looks more or less the part - but hasn't challenged himself enough.

Always that nagging fear, looking at the sheer depth and breadth of modelling on this forum and elsewhere, that I was never going to be anything more than a tinkerer, so to speak, changing numbers and adding some weathering powders, but nothing much else.

I've always had this fear that I somehow wasn't good enough to call myself a modeller. There's been some dire projects I have worked on in years gone by, from when I first started modelling seven years ago (which were good to try, and fail in some cases), and even now I know I am not a good modeller...yet.

But I think I can now actually call myself a modeller with this particular project. I haven't felt this satisfied with anything I've done in terms of modelling for a long, long time. The whole trial and error of the A4 conversions has finally yielded some results I am happy with. More than, actually. There's one modification to the etches that needs to be done, but on the whole the whole package is superb.

I completed the "de-frocking" of the Hornby Kingfisher this afternoon, adding the rest of the etched parts to complete my 1948/49 based A4 Pacific.

(Incidentally, this conversion kit is also suitable for 1980s era Sir Nigel Gresley or Bittern, if you use a Hornby Mallard model and find an appropriate tender).

So here are the results;

First up, adding the missing access hatches on the streamlined casing, and the blank smokebox numberplate bracket (which allows the modeller to add an etched replacement, or put a transfer on for the locomotive of their choice), along with an upper lamp bracket replacement (for which the kit also caters for the lower ones, and tender lamp irons. Very handy to have a few spare if there's a model with any damage!)

Seen below is a comparison between the modified and unmodified Kingfisher models.

Then there's the next set of etches to add, on the right hand side the lower firebox sides, and on the left hand side, the same again but with the reverser too (Hornby don't include this on the models with valances, understandably, as it simply wouldn't be seen under the valances).

It's the reverser to lower firebox arrangement where there needs to be a modification. There is a notch on the left hand side lower firebox bracket for the reverser to go through, but on the etches it is at the bottom, rather than the top, and consequently some modification is required on these etches to allow the reverser to sit in its correct position. A minor discrepancy which didn't take long to sort and also doesn't detract particularly from the quality of the conversion kit.

So there we have it; the end of this particular portion of the overall trial. There's a few more bits which I will address next week in Part 3, but for the moment, that's all to report. Next time I'll go through the final bits and pieces along with painting the brass components, cleaning up the valances a little more, then naming and numbering the A4 Pacific test candidate - who is Kingfisher for now but won't be next time...

Thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your weekend.


"A4 Conversion Test Etches - Part 1"

You will recall that recently, I had been indulging in some conversions of Hornby garter blue A4 Pacifics in order to gain 1949 condition A4s. I identified a few problems with this approach, went away, had a think, and came up with a solution; a set of etches that makes the removal of the valances easier, and also caters for missing components and/or damage.

Peter Harvey of PH Designs recently finished a set of test etches for a conversion kit I had specified. Unfortunately, it's taken me a few weeks to find the time to now get around to using them. One of those things - but the wait was well worth it, in my opinion... So in this first instance, we have the donor A4 Pacific; a Hornby Kingfisher which has been split from a Flying Scotsman trainset.


Now we bring in the etches for the conversion. The first one includes the shaping tool, which you attach to the valances, along with a few components such as the reverser and AWS plate which Hornby's fully valanced models do not have.

 The second set of etches have replacement lamp irons, doors, numberplate brackets and the crucial missing access hatch (which goes directly below the nameplates on the front end of the streamlined casing).

All in all, it looks terrific. Will it work as well? In short, yes. I attached the valancing shaping tool to the valances through a few careful drops of superglue - since the valances are coming off, it matters not that it ruins the plastic it's attached to! And then ran a sharp scalpel over the length of the shape.

Once this was done, I removed the shaping tool carefully, and have soaked it in some meths to clean it off for reuse. The wonders of brass, and the ingenuity of Peter's solution to my problem.

Using a set of pliers, I carefully bent the valances at the scalpel cuts, until they came clean away. It was so easy that it surprised me when it was all over within five minutes! It took me a good hour to do Mallard's valances previously.

So here we have the current state of play - missing all of the accoutrements for now, as it's late and I need my sleep! Valances now fully "defrocked" and awaiting some filing down and rubbing with a wet'n'dry pad to finish the job off. I don't think that's come out too badly at all. Spare Kingfisher shown for comparison.

So there we have it - one set of valances removed in a half hour on a Saturday night. My first bit of modelling for weeks, and I loved it! Until next time - when I'll be tackling the rest of the test etches for this conversion. Night all!

June 22, 2012

"500,000 Views - Episode 1"

It has finally happened - my first 500,000 views video on YouTube. Many thanks to everyone who has supported The British Railway Stories since we first aired on the 17th August 2007. Has it really been five years...!

With the new eBook coming out on the 15th July, and the new format for the series later this year, it has never been a better time to find out where it all began in 2007.

Real locations, real engines, real stories.

Until next time!

June 20, 2012

"BRWS Wiki Leaks"

It's not often I have a chuckle all to myself, but reading the BRWS Wiki pages today, I was reminded of a few things I've said about the series on Youtube. The trouble with building up the series over five years is that you forget an awful lot of the things you've said that in hindsight, you wished you hadn't!

For example, the original team planning all those ridiculous sequel series when we hadn't even released one episode - with me as the spokesperson eagerly rabbiting away as to what engine classes we'd have...! Priceless.

However, I'm actually quite happy with what's been written on the Wiki. There's some inaccuracies, granted, but it's great to see and read people taking a genuine, eager interest in my work.

However I had to laugh out loud when I realized a mistake in The Last Run that I had not at any point noticed - saying that Jerry's funnel was covered in Stephen's final scenes...only to have completely forgot to model it!

I hope in the years to come, I can address some of the mistakes made in the original model series in the new format, but I will always look fondly on what will most likely be termed in the future "The Original British Railway Stories" signalling where it all began.

I hope, after the book is released, to be able to showcase some of the test footage I have created for the upcoming The British Railway Stories feature I am planning. The format is very different to that you'll be used to, but I can say with utmost certainty the new format is likely to delight fans of the original model series, and those looking for something more professional looking. It will also satisfy me more in its look, more closely matching the style that Dean has produced for the first book.

 Until next time!


June 19, 2012

"Author & Artist"

As part of my ongoing updates to the blog, while "Project Wedgwood" (the new main website) takes shape, I have developed the original "about the author" page into the "Author & Artist" page. See what you think!


June 15, 2012

"Release date announced!"

Yes, the release date for the Kindle version of Tale of the Unnamed Engine has been confirmed - July 15th, 2012.

Until next time!


June 10, 2012

"Tale of the Unnamed Engine - Sample"

If you're a member of The British Railway Stories' Facebook group, you'll know that I uploaded a sample PDF of the first few pages of the upcoming eBook, "Tale of the Unnamed Engine" earlier this evening.

Enjoy, and feel free to pass it around.

Until next time, when I'll relate more fully my time spent at Railfest last week.

Kind regards,


June 06, 2012


Just a heads up,

I'll be attending Railfest at the National Railway Museum, York, this coming Friday and Saturday.

I'll more than likely have some of the promotional postcards I had for the London Book Fair with me to hand out to anyone who'd like one, and possibly some promotional material for the book too.

I do envisage spending the days with my friends, but feel free to approach me if you have any questions; I'd be only too happy to answer and have a more general chat.

I would emphasize - most of all - enjoy the sights and sounds of what promises to be the Glastonbury of the railway world! I know I will.