December 31, 2014

"Happy new year"

So the countdown has begun. Parties are being set up all over the country. I myself am heading to one in Sidcup, for various reasons, not least certain work commitments and family ones too.

2014 was the year I started to turn things around for myself. I can say that and be both proud in some things I've accomplished, and of course embarrassed at the things which went wrong. But hey, the road is full of imperfections.

I'm still on that road. That very very very very very very long road, called life. Stuff happens. Things fall apart. Things get put back together. We're not just talking modelling here people!

Things get better. Things get worse. Things come to a head. Things just happen unexpectedly. Things get delayed. Things suddenly brighten up, and things change for the better.

By now the word "things" no longer looks like a word to me so I'll cut to the chase.

2014 was change. Lots of things (there's that word again) changed, some stayed the same. The biggest changes had the smallest impacts at first, but some have stayed with me.

I'm looking forward to 2015, and I hope you are are too. Wherever you're going, whatever road or railway line you're taking, be sure to treat each and everyone the same, and enjoy life.

Who knows, you might end up on a railway platform, unaware that change is just around the corner. I live in hope.

Happy new year!

November 30, 2014

"End of the year"

Evening all,

November was an absolute washout for BRWS Ltd. So busy at work and at home, modelling took a hit, as did writing.

The shop will be closed from December 10th, and the website will be down from the 15th for our winter maintenance period. You won't be able to contact us until the new year - specifically January 15th - so if you do need anything please let us know before then.

I have a sad announcement - after much thought and lots of testing, I will be withdrawing our current range of A4 detailing etches from sale. Whatever we have left in stock, we will sell, and that will be it for the time being.

This isn't a quality thing or a problem with the supplier: it's a time factor, I simply haven't any to devote to it for the time being.

Thanks for all of your support the last year, and - though there will be a Christmas blog and a New Year's blog - it's goodbye from all of us at BRWS Ltd for the time being.

Ending on a high, however - I am thrilled to announce that the Bluebell Railway has sold out of its original stock of our book, Tale of the Unnamed Engine. They have received a further allocation in time for Christmas. Please support them and us by buying the book there.

Simon A.C. Martin

November 02, 2014

"A quick selection of Hornby Gresley P2 pictorial updates"

Just a couple of quick pics to show where I am with the P2. Cabsides are in the process of being modified to the correct cut out size...

…the driving wheels and pony/cartazzi wheels are now painted black...

…and the body shell is coming along nicely, with the resin lower sides amalgamated with a Hornby smokebox front and top upper third. The ACFI water header bulge has been removed and the A4 top to the boiler blended in.

Lots more work to do, but she is getting there. The big worry was taking the chassis apart and putting it back together once the driving wheels were painted but happily all seems to be working fine.

Until next time.

October 06, 2014

"Class O6…no.3505"

In the second world war, something rather odd happened. The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) took delivery of several shed loads of London Midland designed Stanier 8Fs, or to give them correct classification (as this is an LNER centric blog after all) class O6. These excellent work horses were put to good use and were given Gill Sans yellow lettering and numerals to suit their new owner.

I'd always wanted to model one of these, and to my delight some photographs show that they got as far south as King's Cross post war…!

My chosen locomotive subject, no.3505, can be seen photographed in the appropriate Yeadon's Register in a surprisingly clean state. This model has been converted from a very badly battered Hornby model I bought off eBay for - wait for it - £15.

Yes, £15. This model had no motor (bought for £5 and fitted for nothing), no tender frames (bought for £7) and the running plate was converted using a brass masters kit I bought second hand (£5). Total cost, £32. Who says budget modelling can't be fun?!

The locomotive was stripped, primed, and then given a coat of gloss black before press fix numerals and lettering from the HMRS Transfers range were applied. Immediately I can see I've done the numerals a little too far apart. I hope after some weathering this won't be noticeable. The other side will be better, I promise! If it still looks odd, it's out with the fibre glass brush and I will start all over again…

Overall it's given me a nice unusual modelling subject and one which will raise a few eyebrows at exhibitions. I must admit, not being a Midland fan (at all) being able to work on a couple of Stanier's finest has made me appreciate the handsome clean lines of this design in particular.

However, give me a Thompson O1 any day. Elegance re-defined in a beautifully utilitarian manner.

And on that bombshell…goodnight!

October 04, 2014

"Dark liveried Duchess"

You may remember some time ago, that I bought another of the Great British Locomotive series models, a Stanier Duchess, numbered as 6220 Coronation. The intention was to put that model into wartime black livery as City of Lancaster, but give it British Railways numbering and LMS lettering. How did I get on?

Pretty well as it happens! She's been quietly stripped down over the last few months, repainted and mated with a now fully modified matching tender, together with some Modelmaster nameplates and a fully rebuilt loco drive Hornby chassis. The total expenditure for this model is a little under £45, the static model coming in at just under £5 of that total number!

I did initially have the nameplates in a slightly different location, but a friend pointed me in the correct direction for putting them right. Now centred over the driving wheel, I have to say as a non Midlander I think the class looks very handsome in plain black with brass nameplates.

She's missing the numerals and lettering, and a touch of weathering, which will come in the next few weeks I suspect. Once done she is firmly going into the pool of "run what I like" locomotives for running something a little different. She is not going to be the only Duchess I have in any event - one other will be built as exchange trials participant City of Bradford.

Until next time.

October 02, 2014

"Thompson B3/3, slight change to the chimney…"

Evening all!

I've done quite a lot of railway modelling these past few weeks, preferring to concentrate on my locomotive projects for the time being.

Although I've only showcased the B3/3 and streamlined P2 projects in particular, I've also been working on a Thompson A2/3, four Thompson B1s (in apple green), all five of my Gresley A3s, and been doing some more painting of A4 body shells. Watch this space for updates on all of those…I sense that the express portion of my stockist is almost complete on a number of levels.

No more big engines after the end of this year I suspect! More tank engines of the J50 and N1 variety will be on the cards, as well as consolidating the existing N2s, L1s and similar I already have.

Moving back to the B3/3, which had a minor update. The GCR chimney, on reflection and from feedback I received on the LNER forum, I replaced the top half with a GNR style cap to improve the overall look further.

The effect on the locomotive is notable and it is an improvement both on the original B1 type chimney and the GCR one I fitted thereafter. I simply cut down one of Graeme King's excellent resin O1 chimneys, cut off the top from the GCR one, filed it and glued it down.

The result is rather better I hope!

Until next time.

September 29, 2014

"Streamlined P2…any colour so long as it's…."

The tender of the P2 has now been completed, bar transfers. Plain black livery applied, it has a nice sheen without looking too glossy.

The valve gear is more or less finished. Please excuse the slight angle here - this has since been rectified.

This isn't the finished model of course, but it is getting closer day by day and I am feeling happier about it day by day.

Until next time.

September 28, 2014

"Streamlined P2: valve gear complete, body shell getting closer…"

The Hornby P2 rebuild keeps on rolling along...

So there's still a long way to go but I am very happy with the progress being made. A few more weeks and I hope to unveil no.2003 in full wartime black.

I think the above photograph speaks for itself.

Until next time.

September 27, 2014

"Bit more work on the Hornby Streamlined P2…"

A few more modifications and a game of spot the difference...

A section of boiler has been removed by careful cutting and filing, and a slice of A4 boiler (left over from a hacked about Great British Locomotives, Mallard static model) has been added to make the right sloping forward boiler profile for a streamlined P2. This will be more carefully blended in over the weekend using Humbrol plastic filler.

The cylinders are now on a new stretcher and set at the right height. Placed temporarily is a correct shape but missing lots of details white metal P2 front end, being used mainly to check the length and space available over the cylinders for the plug on resin front end, and for the addition of some running plate to make the overall shape.

That's it for the moment - until next time.

September 24, 2014

"Streamlined P2 in the making…"

I've been quietly working behind the scenes on my version of Gresley's P2, converted from the Railroad model of no.2001. The model utilises number of different spare odds and ends and will be a right Frankenstein's monster in some respects but will hopefully also end up producing a fairly accurate model too.

You will notice that the Hornby valve gear and the air smoothed front end are both gone. The latter is being saved in the spares box should I ever decide to make no.2002 Earl Marischal as built!

The front end is eventually going to be a combination of Hornby A4 front end, my own well worked resin valances and side panels, and a white metal chimney from a Kay's Kit together with Maygib double spencer buffers.

At the rear, the cab side sheets are going to be extended upwards to make the right type for no.2003 Lord President (which at the moment, is my intended subject). The tender requires some modification at front and rear to match the P2 streamlined tender and this will be done out of plasticard and Archer's rivets.

The boiler towards the smokebox end is entirely the wrong profile - it should slope down to the streamlined front, as per the A4s, and this I will attend to with some filing and re-profiling.

Putting all the bits together though to mock up the overall look of the thing, and suddenly I feel a thousand times more confident I can do this than I did at the start of the week.

Until next time.

September 22, 2014

"Something streamlined this way comes…"

V2 cylinders need a few mods (lowering a tad, the valve gear needs to be fitted onto the support bracket behind too)...

…the tender needs painting…along with the driving wheels and other items...

…but, touch wood, I appear to have a working walschaerts valve gear fitted P2 chassis.

I would never dream of saying this was the best way to go, but if you're short on time, soldering iron talent and feel like having a go, this method is working rather well for me thus far.

Until next time.

September 21, 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.

Oh - but before I go - a hint of things to come:

Until next time.

September 17, 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.


September 01, 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.

August 27, 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.

August 26, 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.

August 21, 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.