Monday, 27 July 2009

Story of a Plank - Part 4: Roads & Rails

Well, now that I’ve got my holiday sorted out and all the photos blogged, uploaded, sorted and filed, I think it’s time to get back a bit of modelling. I pottered about a bit yesterday with The Plank, and have got the road sorted and the railway started. This is where I’m at:

Starting with the road, previously I’d got as far as laying and painting the surface. This was too pale and clean to create the right look, so I gave the entire surface three colour washes to tone it down a bit. I simply used three very watered down coats of black paint to achieve this effect, and I’m pleased with the results. It’s a common misconception that roads are black – this only occurs when the tarmac is fresh and recently laid, but roads weather and lighten very quickly, and those that have not been treated for years on end become a very pale grey indeed.

In addition to the general weathering, I also placed some splodges onto the road. This wasn’t a case of being careless, well, not all of them at any rate. As this model is depicting a layby, it is common for vehicles to drip oil and fluids onto the road surface, particularly lorries, and especially the lorries at my place of work that are maintained by our alleged, but totally incompetent ‘service provider’ who wouldn’t recognise a blocked filter if it hit him in the face. No, it’s not nice, but that’s just the way it is.

As with the road surface, these oil spills will also weather and fade over time, with only the most recent drips showing as nearly black, with a slightly glossy sheen to them. This photo shows a typically weathered layby:

The next stage was to add in the drains and manholes. I used the etched brass versions from Ten Commandments, which I painted dark grey. They should fit flush with the road surface, unless you’re modelling Grantham town centre, in which case they should sit proud of the pitted road surface in order to gouge great lumps out of your tyres. The Council absolve themselves of any responsibility by saying that because they reduced bin collections to fortnightly, there are now less heavy lorries churning up the roads and causing the manholes to stick out of the road. So it’s our fault – well, as long as we’re clear about that. The problem can be cured, but it would mean a 225% increase in Councillors expenses as they would need to jet off en-masse to Barbados for a Road Surface Strategy & Solutions Conference.

But I digress. To make the drains sit at the correct height, simply insert some spacers – I used offcuts of balsa, and painted them black to create an impression of depth when looking down the drains. Believe me, at every exhibition I’ve been to, there is always someone who will make a point of looking down drains. They must lead full and exciting lives.

This now completes the basics of the road surface, so while it all dried, I began on the joy of tracklaying. As this is just a static diorama, I don’t have to worry about any of the usual tracklaying headaches; all I’m after here is the appearance. Two lengths of spare Peco flexitrack did the job, no need for wiring or anything else. I painted the sides of the rails a weathered rust; this is a long and laborious job but absolutely essential. The base is more cork mat cut to shape, glued into position and painted dark grey in order to provide a good foundation for the track.

The next stage is an important one – if you are modelling MAS then cable trunking will be required, and must be fitted prior to ballasting in order to look right. It can be retrofitted, as members of Perth Model Railway Club found out on their excellent Almond Bridge layout, but it’s a long and boring job chipping away at all the ballast in order to lay the trunking before replacing the ballast. They did it, but I understand that they drank the bar dry afterwards, and bear in mind we’re talking about Scotland here.

Cable trunking can be scratch built from Evergreen Strip Styrene, which is an excellent product that I use for all sorts of projects. Modellers Mate, Inter City Models and Modelex stock the full range to name but three – other suppliers can be found at certain shows. In this case, however, I’m taking the easy way out and using Ten Commandments cable trunking, as this diorama is being built to demonstrate their products at exhibitions.

Packs come in Four-Foot or Ten Foot versions, with various extra junction boxes. A nice feature is that a number of covers have been removed to expose the wires underneath, as can be seen frequently in real life. Spare covers are included in the pack, so that they can be realistically placed by the lineside during, or after, some PW work.

Real cable trunking is made from concrete sections, for modelling purposes I simply gave it all a coat of grey paint, as most of it will be hidden with ballast, and the surface will receive weathering once the track is complete. I laid the cable trunking snug up to the cork mat; this means it runs exactly parallel to the railway, which looks good. The trunking is made of a bendy plastic, so it follows the contours of the trackbed very nicely, and can be glued into position with PVA adhesive. Naturally my task was made simpler because I only have one running line, and things get considerably more complicated at junctions, yards and stations. The Ten Commandments cable trunking pack includes various T-junctions and 90° turns for these areas, and I can demonstrate this on a mock up I created for the trade stand a while ago:

This example shows how the cable trunking crosses the tracks – this would be required if the Power Box that controlled the signals was located on the other side of the permanent way. The cables can be made to ‘turn the corner’ with a 90° block, and then cross under the tracks in one of the distinctive orange tubes that protect the wires from damage. For this use a narrow drinking straw, or any suitable piece of narrow tube in your bits box. I think that this set-up is pretty much correct, if not, I’m sure James at Eastmoor can put me right! It is also useful to use a T-Junction piece to feed cables into lineside relay cabinets, a feature often overlooked during track laying. I have designed one of these into the diorama.

I’m leaving all that to settle, the next job is ballasting – oh, I can hardly contain myself!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Murmurs on the Krakow Express

I've been playing around with all the left overs and out-takes from my recent Polish railway trips, and put them altogether along with some photos into a short film. I'm no Speilburg so don't expect too much; but it's an interesting view of foreign rail travel, and just a bit of a change from the norm.

All aboard! (Position cursor over video screen for controls).

Music: Bach Toccata performed by Sky, 1980.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A Great Railway Journey

Although not directly modelling related, my recent visit to Poland gave me the opportunity to travel on a real railway first hand, which was a fascinating experience indeed. I undertook a day return from Jaworzno to Krakow, with both trains consisting of a ‘proper’ electric locomotive and coaches. Each trip was by a Polish Railways (PKP) Inter City train, with a loco looking not unlike former BR class 81 / 85, and coaches that looked to date from around the mid 1960’s or so – comparable to a Mk1 or early Mk2 vehicle. These coaches are very comfortable and clean with a superb quality of ride and hark back to the days of when rail travel in the UK was about a service for passengers, rather than making a profit for directors and shareholders. Coaches have compartments that seat 8 (in second class), and the best feature of all – windows that open so that you lean out and watch, or photograph, the passing scenery. Here is a snapshot of the two journeys I made on these trains:

Our train pulls into Jaworzno Szczakowa, being the
06:35 from Wroclaw that would continue to Przemysl arriving at 15:35.

Permanent Way workers get on with a repair job as the train passes by -
no weekend closures with bus replacements in Poland!

Lush green vegetation flanks the well maintained and smooth railway.
Windows that open are a real blast from the past!
Just what is needed in the 35 degree celsius heat of the day.

Passing a northbound express during the
only intermediate station stop at Trzebinia.

A Polish Railways (PKP-Cargo) freight loco stabled outside Trzebinia Station.

The Polish countryside from the train - note the complete absence of 8 foot high palisade fencing or barriers at the open level crossing. Polish people understand that walking or driving along a busy railway line isn't conducive to a long and healthy life, so they don't need miles and miles of expensive and unneccessary fencing to keep them off. Who needs rules when you can use commonsense, eh, Gordon?

Arriving at Krakow Glowny station over a junction that is a PW worker's
dream of double slips and diamond crossings.
The signal box that controls the busy area is situated to the left.

It ain't pretty, is it? This loco was stabled in Krakow for a later turn in the day.

With the sightseeing stuff out of the way, time to return to the station for our return trip to Jaworzno. This provided the opportunity to see another EP13 loco, this time in charge of a southbound Inter City service.

Our train back to Jaworzno was the 19:14 from Krakow, although it had started it's journey several hours previously at Rzescow. The ultimate destination was the Baltic seaside resort of Kolobrzeg (pronounced, would you believe as 'Co-obzjay) where arrival would be at 07:58 the following morning. Consequently, the consist contained sleeping cars and couchettes towards the rear of the train for long distance travellers.

All coaches carry these useful route boards, which denote principle intermediate stations and the final destination. These are invaluable because information at stations, even a major city like Krakow, is somewhat sketchy to say the least - and I'm being polite here.

The train heads out of Krakow, passing the major carriage servicing depot on the way. The former green and cream PKP livery is being phased out and replaced by the smart silver / grey scheme for Inter City trains, as seen on the coach on the right. Sleeping cars and couchettes receive the blue, red and white livery (centre vehicie) that immediately reminded me of Network South-East!

During the trip I decided to try out the video function on my Samsung Camera. I was pleasantly surprised by the results, never having videoed anything in my life before. This first clip was taken on the outskirts of Krakow, at a business park currently under construction. Our train passed a local EMU making a station stop at the new station. (Move mouse cursor over video for 'Start' button).

Back at Jaworzno, I had another go at filming, this time capturing our train departing for the next stage of the journey to the coast. Minutes later, a brand new EMU commuter service rolled in. It was great to stand at the end of a platform and not be abused by officious idiots in high-viz with nothing better to do than accuse me of being an international train bomber.

All in all, an excellent day of train travel, that brought back the romance and enjoyment of travelling by rail.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

A Crafty Way to Win a Competition

Following my recent article about creating waterslide decals, I see that Crafty Computer Papers have launched a 'Have you got talent' competition. Any creations made using any of Crafty Computer Paper's products are eligible, so what better time to get creative and start designing decals for lorries, vans or rolling stock on your layout?

These were the first models I created using Crafty paper - Pattersons was made
on clear paper, whilst
Regan & Sons (Transport hard enough to rollerskate on)
was printed onto white paper, thus allowing application to the dark blue trailer.

The competition is free-to-enter, all that is required are good quality photos emailed direct to Crafty. There are prizes on offer, too!

£75 for 1st prize
£50 for 2nd prize
£25 for 3rd prize

The winners and runners up will have their photos of their creations shown on the Crafty Computer Paper website and the close of the competition will be 20th August, so there’s plenty of time get stuck in and create a fantastic model.

Small detail decals such as these can really make a model stand out. The speed camera cartoon is waterslide, whilst the flags and name are printed on clear dry-rub paper - I'll cover this subject in the future, as the process is entirely different to creating waterslide decals.

Best of British!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Story of a Plank - Part 3: Road Building

Progress is coming along nicely on the plank. The road surface has been laid using the cork mat, which was cut to shape and affixed to the board with PVA glue. Large pieces of the cork mat are inclined to lift and peel up once laid, so it is essential to place several large items that will not move for several hours onto the mat while the glue is setting. I use heavy books for this purpose, but any large inert item, such as teenage offspring for example, work equally well.

Once the glue has dried overnight, the books are lifted off or teenage offspring are removed. This is easily accomplished by waving a £10 note around. There is now a lovely flat and smooth surface upon which to work. The task now is to plan the road, and cut holes into the cork wherever a gap is required – this can be for drains, manholes, and roadworks. This job is far easier when the mat is glued to the board rather than the seemingly obvious method of cutting the holes prior to fixing. By using a sharp scalpel, the required portion will simply lift out without tearing.

With the holes cut, the road can now be painted. I used textured tarmac paint from Green Scene; this is an excellent product in a range of textured paints for a wide variety of surfaces. Some of these work better than others – but the tarmac is a winner. The paint has extremely fine grains of sand to provide texture, and by mixing before use an even coat of texture may be applied. For a new main road, I’d suggest stirring very lightly so as not to make too rough a surface. For an older country lane, lay-by, or any road in Grantham I’d recommend a really good stir to get plenty of the sand mixed in and provide a rougher surface. The paint itself is quite thin, and I use three coats to get some colour onto the mat itself as shown here:

Currently the grey is far too pale to be totally convincing, but that’s no problem as the next stage is weathering, in order to tone it down. Should you wish for a darker grey from the outset, add some acrylic black paint to the jar. Any holes that were cut into the road earlier should be touched in with a drop of black paint; this will show through drain covers etc, and give depth to the finished model.

Since I last did some work on The Plank, I’ve had a change of heart about the café. It was really too close to the railway tracks, so I’ve moved it to the far end of the lay-by. The concrete plinth is all ready for it – again, just cork mat with textured paint.

The last job in this phase is to drill holes adjacent to the main carriageway – these are to accept the working streetlights I plan to install.

A close up of a section of road shows the texture in more detail, to my mind this gives a very realistic impression of tarmac, especially once weathered and detailed.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Transporter of Delight

Whilst digging around for materials to use on ‘The Plank’, I came across this car transporter I purchased a while ago from Contikits. It bears similarities to the vehicle that I drive at work, so it is an ideal project to work on.

However, in order to replicate my own vehicle, I need to change the Mercedes Benz cab to that from an Iveco Cargo. Fortunately, I just happen to have a tractor unit of an Iveco lying around, so I have now earmarked these vehicles for a bit of ‘bashing’ during the summer, and aim to have the completed lorry ready for display at Peterborough exhibition.

As well as a cab transplant, the bodywork needs a respray into our company dark blue, as well as creating a set of decals for the logo using the techniques in my previous post: A Crafty Way to Create Waterslide Decals. To complete the effect, a load of second hand cars all ready to go to auction will be loaded onboard – and if I use Herpa cars, the value will be around the same!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Story of a Plank - Part 2: Foundations

Work has begun on ‘the plank’ – I need a name for this project. The first basic step is to lay out the positions of the road and railway. For the road I’m using a roll of cork sheet cut to the required shape; I’ll also be using this ubiquitous product for the railway track bed. Using cork mat for the railway is a popular technique, but I’m a huge fan of using it for roads too, for the following reasons:

The surface is textured, making a realistic base upon which to work.
It is easily cut to shape; ideal for any road layout that is required – bends and junctions are no problem.
It gives depth to the road, so holes may be cut into it to allow manholes, drains, roadworks etc to be easily recreated.
The mat is available in several thicknesses, and in sheets of 6sq foot – a good workable size.
It is cheap – my holy grail.

Cork mat used to be widely available at shows, but sadly these days many retailers only take along piles of Hornby & Bachmann stock, because it is seen as the sexy side of modelling. They then leave the boring mundane modelling stuff (the essentials, in other words) behind. Try getting ballast, fishplates, paint, glue or buffers at most shows, and generally you’ll struggle. But if you want a Hornby class 60, you’ll be faced with every other stand offering them in 18 different liveries. I got all my cork mat from Modellers Mate, who specialise in the unglamorous stuff – but they have just about everything a serious modeller who actually builds things could ever want.

For ‘Plank’ I’m using 1/16 inch thick mat. The first step was to draw the outline of the road and lay-by onto the surface, followed by a guide of where the track would go. As always, there’s never quite as much space as you thought you had! For this reason, I’m scaling down from double track to single track; otherwise the scenic break between road and railway will be too compressed.

With everything marked out, the cork was cut to shape and everything laid out as I plan it – road vehicles and a train were positioned so as to see how everything will fit into place – and here we are:

The strip of cork along the front of the board represents the edge of the main road, with the lay-by set back as in the photos from the A1 on Monday. The rectangle behind the coach is the base for the café, which will be based on the portacabin design. The single-track railway will be positioned behind this along the backscene.

So far, so good. To be continued …

Monday, 6 July 2009

Story of a Plank - Part 1: Ideas & Inspiration

If the title of this article leads you to think that I’m writing my autobiography, then think again. And thanks. Martin Luther King had a dream. I have a plank. I suppose we all have to start somewhere – and look what happened to Martin Luther King. Anyway, down to business. I do have a plank, or rather, a shelf (3 in fact) that have been discarded at work. I retrieved these shelves from the skip; they’re far too nice to throw away – and the timing is perfect. I need to build a scenic diorama for the show season when it kicks off in September, and now I have, at absolutely no cost to myself, the base on which to build one.

The idea for the diorama came to me a while ago, when parked up in one of my favourite lay-bys on the A1 near Colsterworth. I need something that depicts roads, railways, basic scenery, lineside detailing and scenic lighting for buildings and streetlights – in other words, a cornucopia of everyday facets of modelling, but they need to be brought together in a realistic manner in order to look convincing and plausible.

I have decided that this shelf provides sufficient space to create the impression of a large layby set back from the road, and includes a roadside diner at one end. A railway line will run along the rear. Here is the basic plank, with some stock to show the space available (working in 4mm scale)

The Inspiration

These photos of the prototype show the effect that I’m looking to recreate, based on the southbound lay-by, which is set well back from the road. The trees provide a natural screen from passing traffic on the A1, so you're not likely to get spotted if you shouldn't be there ... perish the thought.

Entrance to the layby, with churned up earth from repeated visits by trucks cutting the corner – a good modelling challenge.

The café, typical of many such roadsides diners. It has been created from a portacabin, and will make a great model. Plenty of opportunity for detailing here, especially if illuminated. I always enjoy working on building interiors. This particular café is located on the northbound A1 in the layby about 7 miles south of Colsterworth, and serves a cracking Bellybuster Breakfast for £4.80. I have made many visits to this layby, in the interests of modelling research, of course.

A general view that highlights the weathering of the road surface, discarded litter and wild, unkempt vegetation at the roadside.

The reading room, available at the more classy Truckstops. Also makes a great layout cameo. Smells not included.

The railway – I actually took this on the Boulby branch near Middlesborough some years ago, but this is the sort of look I’m after – a secondary line, still regularly used, but a little rundown with weeds growing in the trackbed and lineside vegetation encroaching onto the tracks in places. I'll be adding cable trunking to my model, as this is a detail that is easily overlooked until the ballast has been laid - and retro fitting is not easy or pleasant!

So that is the plan. I’ll keep you updated on progress, and hope to have a presentable model ready for an appearance at Peterborough Exhibition. So, it’s not just Martin Luther King who has a dream then …

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Crafty Way to Design Waterslide Decals

Creating decals for modelling has never been easier, thanks to the widespread availability in recent years of DIY decal papers that allow you to create, print and apply decals to just about any typical modelling surface. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll be working on an articulated lorry to be finished in the livery of Geo Adams (Pork Products), partly because the livery is straightforward to apply and the end result looks striking – and secondly because I like pork pies.

The donor vehicle was a Mercedes Actros with a box trailer that I picked up from Contikits at an exhibition, similar to this vehicle shown below. Although 1:87 scale, these Herpa vehicles are very well detailed and look the part on a layout once they’ve been anglicised.

Getting Started

The first step is to dismantle the vehicle – slowly and carefully are the watchwords here, as the detailing parts are rather fragile. Once in bits, time for a respray. I did the whole lot in Halfords grey primer, followed by the cab and trailer body in three thin coats of Halfords white primer. A single coat of Halfords gloss glacier white finishes these areas off. The chassis, cab front valence and wheels on Adams lorries are navy blue, so back to Halfords for an appropriate colour from their car paint range, and I applied three thin coats to the relevant areas. Finally, the cab and trailer bodies were sprayed with Halfords gloss lacquer varnish – this is very shiny, but don’t worry – it’s only there to make application of the transfers a bit easier. It’s not really necessary; on some models I’ve skipped this stage without any problems, provided the base colour is glossy. If you are using a matt surface, then a layer of gloss varnish is definitely recommended otherwise decal application will be a lot more difficult. More of that later. Incidentally, I prefer to use Halfords paints for basic colours simply because they’re a fraction of the price of anything with ‘modelling’ written on the tin, plus they’re widely available and have a lovely smooth finish.

Getting Creative

With the body and chassis component parts all sprayed up, leave them to dry and harden while you get a coffee and settle down at your computer for the design bit. Firstly, the materials; starting with decal paper. There are many, many companies out there selling such products, and I’ve tried dozens of them. Almost all are unsuitable for fine detail modelling, as the ink has a tendency to bleed during printing and looks horrendous when finished. They are invariably sold in packs of ten sheets, which becomes an expensive way of trying something out – spending money unnecessarily makes me weak at the knees and faint. Fortunately, a creative friend put me onto Crafty Computer Papers a few years ago, and I’ve never looked back. They do a wide range of modelling materials – for this project I’m using inkjet waterslide decal paper that you can see here.

The really nice thing about Crafty Computer Papers is that they will sell you their products by the sheet, rather than forcing you to buy a pack of ten. Currently, a sheet of A4 is £1.55, so at that price it’s well worth taking a punt to see if you like it – and you can get an awful lot of decals onto a sheet of A4. Unless I’m working on a very large project, I cut my sheet of A4 into two sheets of A5 as this avoids waste, as well as leaving an extra sheet for future projects. There are two types of this paper available – clear and white. Clear paper is suited to a white or very pale background, whilst white paper can go on a dark background. In this instance, I’m using clear, as the surface of the lorry body is white. This is significant – inkjet printers (apart from some super-duper versions at super-duper prices) cannot print white, therefore, when the printer ‘sees’ white on a design, it is actually leaving the area blank, so that the background colour of the model appears through the gaps.

The design for the actual decals may be created in the desktop publishing programme of your choice. Dimensions for models are crucial, otherwise the decal will be the wrong size – so double check your measurements. I speak from experience, yet still make silly mistakes from time to time. After all that time and effort, it is very frustrating to make an avoidable mistake. Size really does matter, take it from me, my girlfriend knows what’s she talking about (for once). I always work in millimetres for this reason (we’re back on modelling now, I hasten to add). Here is a screen-grab of a sheet of A5 decals I’m working on.

There are two full sets of lorry decals for Adams, plus two sets of transfers for another project I was working on at the time to fill in the sheet – I’m a tight wad, and like to fill the sheet up! Each lorry set comprises the large side panels, rear doors – onto which I included the ‘Long Vehicle’ reflective signs. On a separate sheet I printed the smaller logos for the cab doors, along with many other small signs for different projects – at the time I had several models on the go at once, hence splitting them up over various sheets.

Printing & Varnishing

So, the designs are complete; time for printing. Always handle the paper very carefully and by the edges – avoid getting grease from fingerprints onto the glossy surface, as these will spoil your print. Printer settings vary depending upon what you’re printing, but I generally find that best results are obtained from using an ordinary paper setting that you’d use for a letter, for example. I also thoroughly recommend taking an ordinary sheet of everyday paper first, and print your design onto this. Cut out all the elements and place on your model to check for size and fit. This simple step will save you a lot of heartache (and money – my pulse rate goes through the roof if I waste a sheet. I think I have a problem) - if your measurements are out, trust me!

Once printed, you should now have a sheet of crisp transfers. Some examples are shown here:

These should be left to dry for at least a couple of hours; I prefer to leave them overnight to really let the ink dry thoroughly. The next stage is the trickiest one, and can make or break your decals. The decals need to be sealed in to create the actual transfers themselves, and this is done by spraying the sheet with an acrylic clear spray varnish – also available from Crafty in a 400 mm can for £8.99. The tricky part is that the coat of varnish needs to be thin, in order to create a smooth transfer with an almost invisible trace of carrier film – but if there isn’t enough varnish on the transfer, then the ink will lift in the water. My preferred technique is to spray a thin coat, then leave for 15 minutes – and repeat this procedure two or three times. Once complete, it must left for a couple of hours, but I prefer to leave them overnight again, just to make sure. This is one of those occasions when practise is the only way to learn and develop a technique. Once again, my girlfriend will vouch for this. Maybe.

Application to Model

If all goes well, you now have a complete set of decals on your sheet. Time now for some preparation before applying the decals to the model. You need to have ready on your workbench the following:

The relevant parts of the model
Scalpel with a fresh, sharp blade and scissors for small decals
Tweezers (borrow from ‘er indoors and don’t forget to put them back)
Paper tissue
Decal applicator and decal setter (optional)
Soft paintbrush
Small flat bladed screwdriver (trust me on this one)
A small bowl of shallow, luke warm water
A sewing pin
A mug of coffee (optional but recommended)

Cut the decals from the sheet and line up on the workbench. I recommend cutting around the decal as closely as possible to the design, to avoid unsightly carrier film being visible. They should be carefully cut out with a sharp scalpel blade (health and safety warning: do not stab yourself with the scalpel, because the blood will ruin your decals.) However, in the case of the ‘Pork Pioneers’ text and the Adams logo on this particular model, I cut out a neat rectangle the height of the body, and placed the whole transfer onto the trailer. Provided that the varnish has been applied evenly and sparingly, the carrier film will all but disappear once in situ. Take the first decal and place in the water – around 30 seconds will do. While the decal is floating, paint some decal applicator onto the surface of the model. (This step is optional. Decal applicator and decal setter help to soften the decal and ensure that they adhere to the model). I got my decal applicator and setter from Shawplan a couple of years ago, but I’m not sure if they are still doing them. I was planning to stock up before Graham retired (sadly missed on the circuit) but I understood that there were supply issues and he would not be getting any more in. I am not sure if the current owners of the business are planning to stock it in the future).

Take the screwdriver, and use it to scoop up the smaller decals from below. Go slowly and gently, or the screwdriver will simply chase the decal around the bowl, rather like the end of a Benny Hill show. This is entertaining once; after that it gets a little tedious. Large decals may be picked up by hand, carefully, and handling only by the edges. Ensure that the backing paper does not float off during this process! You can get away with a small decal, such as a cab logo, coming off, as you can retrieve the decal with the screwdriver blade. A large decal, however, will curl up and become unusable. Carry the decal over to the model, and then gently slide the transfer off the backing paper and onto the model. The decal applicator will help you to slide the transfer into position – small transfers can be notoriously difficult to position and square up, so use the pin for some fine control, while gently dabbing with the tissue paper to absorb the water that has been carried onto the model. With a large bodyside decal, such as the trailer, it is better to start in the centre, and push the water and trapped air bubbles out. Work slowly and gently at all times – the transfer is very delicate at this stage and could easily break. Once you are happy with the positioning of the decal, move onto the next one, and keep going slowly and carefully until the model is complete. Even on a simple project like this one I reckon it takes about an hour to get all the decals in place, but I must stress that ‘slowly but surely’ is the way to go for optimum results.

The finished components may be placed to one side to dry thoroughly and allow the decals to take to the model. Usually, I will leave the parts overnight again, just to make sure. I would then recommend sealing in the decals with a topcoat of varnish as this is essential if the item – say a piece of rolling stock – is going to be handled frequently. The varnish can be another coat of Halfords gloss lacquer, which provides an excellent sealant. Once this is dry, a final coat of varnish may be applied – this can be gloss, satin or matt depending upon the finish required. In the case of the Adams lorry, I applied two coats of satin varnish and skipped the lacquer stage, as this is a display model and not likely to be handled frequently.

Finishing Off

The final step is, of course, reassembly. During this process, the cab interior may be detailed and converted to UK right-hand drive if not supplied as such (and very few models are). This, however, is part of a vehicle detailing article that I will be tackling in the future.

So here, as they say, is one I prepared earlier - a completed Geo. Adams Pork Products lorry – all that is left is to bring on the pies!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

They Don't Make Them Like This Anymore!

My work takes me to all sorts of wierd and wonderful places; and today was no exception. I was delivering to a site in Nottinghamshire where I came across this magnificent, but long disused rail served factory / warehouse.

The modelling potential is enormous, and I just had to take some pictures. I'm not sure what it was previously used for, but the inset rails, which lead to disused facilities on the River Trent, are still in evidence, and part of the company name - 'Waterways' is still legible on the building. I was amazed that such a building is still standing, although it has been fenced off, and beyond it the road is closed to all except contractors - a number of construction vehicles came and went while I was there. I suspect that it may not be with us for much longer. I do think, however, that it would look fantastic on a layout!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Paint Your Wagon - Preview

Well, this hot weather is really draining, and I can’t stump up enough energy at the end of the day to slave over a hot keyboard. So, by way of an appetizer, my next subject is how to create your own waterslide decals for models. All being well, I’ll get around to this write up at the weekend. In the meantime, here is a selection of the models being covered. Now I’m off for an ice cream!

A Scania artic finished as Dave Thomson Logistics.

Try something new from the Chip Monk - Friar's Crisps!
This livery was created by Sam. Nice one.

Plenty of small detail decals on the model - all easy to recreate.

Another artic from Scotland, this time Youngs of Cowdenbeath.
There is no real limit to the design elements that may be included.

A personal favourite - Krusty Keks home delivery laundry service;
perfect for the morning after the night down the pub and the Indian!

Many trucks feature some interesting designs on the rear of the cabs,
and these are easily recreated in model form.

Size is no barrier with the correct materials -
this lorry is N gauge, yet all text is fully legible.

A complete train was resprayed into a promotional livery and completed
with custom made graphics. Coming soon - how to do it yourself!

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