First Bachmann 4-Cep conversion.

April 11, 2017

The Bachmann 4-Cep in original condition as supplied out of the box. A conversion is more of a long project than anything of extreme complexity. Until you have to repaint it!

A long overdue project for my EM gauge Folkestone East project is to convert several OO gauge Bachmann Class 411 4-Cep units to represent the Swindon refurbished units; work undertaken to upgrade the fleet in the early 1980s. The model, as it is supplied, is a four-car set in original ‘as built’ condition with typical Mark 1 coach features. The refurbished 4-Cep conversion involves a long-winded removal of the glazing units and moulded window frames; relocating the guards compartments to the CK and fitting of new glazing units and hopper window frames. The moulded window frames were pared away and smoothed down ready for the new etched ones which are fitted once all painting is complete. The stainless steel colour will be a good representation of the unpainted bare metal of those fitted to refurbished 4-Ceps. This was done using a stainless steel etch designed by another Southern Region modeller called David Crow (see below) and kindly made freely available.

The guards compartment was relocated to a middle trailer during refurbishment work. The original guards compartments in the outer DMBSO vehicles was removed to provide an additional seating bay.

The conversion will involve several other detail changes including swapping the bogies for Commonwealth types and double checking the type of roof ventilator fitted to your chosen unit – they did vary with ridge dome, scallop dome and shell vents all featuring in the 4-Cep fleet. I started work by converting the corridor composite trailer into a composite brake – the two guards compartments in the outer DMBSO trailers being located to bring the 4-Ceps in line with other express stock such as the 4-Cig, 4-Big and 4-Vep units.

Filing plastic away to fit the etched overlay section flush with the rest of the coach sides.

With the guards compartment relocated, the DMBSOs are converted to remove the guards compartments from those vehicles and cut in new windows for an additional seating bay. The etched window frames are used as a guide.

Once positioned as near as can be, the window in the original double doors is sealed up and the new windows cut in on both sides of the trailer.

The door line, door handle and hinges are removed too to create a smooth surface. Some filling is required to complete this work.

A final rub down in the kitchen sink with fine wet and dry paper and the model is ready for the paint shop – models rarely look well after this much work. The first coat of paint will quickly reveal flaws in the body work that need further attention. Rub down again, fill where necessary and re-coat before progressing to more complex parts of the livery! This model is to become No. 1562 finished in Network South-East livery (see below). The full size unit survived until around 2004.

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An hour at Drumchapel.

November 1, 2016

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A recent trip to East Dunbartonshire to photograph a layout for BRM offered the chance of an hour or two of photography at Bowling station – a favourite location of mine. Located on the North Clyde route to Helensburgh, the station sees a fair procession of electric trains on various services – or would have done on this particular Saturday (22.10.16) if someone had not dug up the track with some dirty great yellow machines.

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Hornby R600 straights left beside the platforms. Now, where are the rail joiners?

Okay, an hour to kill before my next assignment and no trains between Helensburgh, Balloch and Dalmuir…where next?

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I relocated to Drumchapel station on the Dalmuir – Anniesland loop to find a steady procession of Class 318s and Class 320 EMUs running singly and in pairs between Dalmuir and Airdrie/Larkhall. On good days, freight bound for Glen Douglas and Fort William will also use this line, together with service trains for the West Highland line.

It was unlikely that I would see anything as exotic as an MoD working on this visit. Nonetheless, I find suburban railways fascinating and the North Clyde lines are among my favourite suburban railways. In the hour at Drumchapel, I photographed a goodly number of the ScotRail Class 320 fleet together with the odd Class 318 – enough to keep me occupied.

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Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4 in N gauge.

March 28, 2016

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Fancy having a go at a really complex livery? How does the dazzling First Group colours as applied to the Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4s (Siemens Desiro) grab you? Insane? You bet!

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I cheated a little – well, rather a lot when it came to it. Electra Railway Graphics produces great-looking printed self-adhesive vinyl overlays for many ready to run N gauge models. A set is available to redress the Bachmann Graham Farish Class 350/1 model into a TPE Class 350/4 and they do the job very nicely and with minimal repainting. None if you really don’t want to wield a paint brush, not even for the scantiest of touching up or underframe weathering.

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The base model is the fine-looking Graham Farish Class 350/1 as seen in the front of the picture above. The plain grey unbranded ‘Silverlink’ version is generally regarded as the best choice for this conversion. OO gauge modellers can complete the same conversion using Electra Railway Graphics overlays for the Bachmann Branchline Class 350/1 model.

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The overlays can be applied straight over the top of the model’s sides without having to remove glazing or make any other modifications – window glazing is part of the vinyls and intended to overlay the original glazing. However, putting a little extra effort into the project lifts it to another level. The glazing inserts were removed from the model and placed safely in a project box so not to loose any before starting the conversion. I spent some work bench time time painting the tumblehome on the underframe mouldings dark grey. The windows in the vinyl sides were cut in through the body shell after vinyl application.

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Once the side and end overlays were completed, they were touched in with dark grey and blue paint where necessary. The sides were sealed in place with Johnsons ‘Klear’ liquid floor wax. When the body shells were completely dry, they were coated with satin varnish to kill the vinyl shine.

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Weathering the underframes and replacing the Graham Farish pantograph with a Dapol version of the Brecknell Willis ‘pan’ completed the model. Having given the satin varnish a number of days to dry, the glazing was reinstated and secured with sparing amounts of liquid poly cement.

The finished model is numbered 350404, representing one of the ten-strong fleet of TPE units which work between Manchester Airport, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley via the West Coast Main Line.

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In reality, as much as I like the units and enjoyed the conversion, TPE Class 350/4s are not suitable for Dudley Heath – they do not run through the West Midlands and also sit outside my operating timefrme. However, it was a livery conversion I wanted to attempt using the printed vinyl overlay technique – I frequently see the units on my rail fanning trips down to the Central Belt. In the meantime, the unmodified Class 350/1 featured in these pictures will continue to operate crew training runs and mileage accumulation diagrams on Dudley Heath representing the most up-to-date time that represented on the layout. It has a new ‘pan’ and modifications to the couplings to allow tight close coupling within the unit. Some detailing will follow, including adding couplings and other fittings to the front of the unit’s DMOS vehicles.

Now that 25kV AC OHLE is represented by portals and masts on the layout, what will be my next EMU project? Something more appropriate to the West Midlands circa year 2000. A clue: older style of Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches are being gathered together for the project…


Cleared for Printing: The third renumber pack transfer sheet from NMS.

July 23, 2010


It has taken a little research and development to produce this sheet of OO gauge (4mm scale) renumbering transfers which will become NMS-3: BR era coaching stock and multiple units. It has finally gone for printing, is expected any day now and will be of the same high quality as the first two sheets which are proving to be very popular. It is intended to help those modellers who wish to renumber models with otherwise great paint finishes such as the Bachmann Mk.1 and Mk.2 coaches for example; but can also be used by repainting enthusiasts and those building and finishing kits. The number style is BR Rail Alphabet which will suit BR blue era and many ‘sectorisation’ and privately operated vehicles. Small black numbers are provided for EMU front end numbers too. Note the ample supply of prefix letters and a ‘number jumble’ from which groups of numbers can be taken to simplify the task of applying vehicle numbers. This is our most ambitious sheet to date and offers a great deal of options. At £3.95 per sheet, it’s great value for money, as always from Nairnshire Modelling Supplies.

The fourth sheet is now being type set which will be a renumbering pack for BR Large Logo BR blue locomotives including Class 37, 47, 50, 56 and 73.


Canary yellow GLV

September 16, 2008

With the layout project temporarily suspended whist awaiting on orders for Atlas code 55 track to arrive, more time has been spent at the work bench. The rebuild of my original GLV model of late 1980s vintage (the model that is) is nearing an end and a session of finishing is next. That will include windows, handrails, lighting, a decoder, interior detail (scant), couplings and other bits and bobs.

This single vehicle project is getting me back into Mk.1 EMU building and several projects sitting OMWB shelves look interesting once again!

Layout planning:
Looking through my notes, I realised that the layout, which will have 205 linear feet of N scale mainline using LDEs from Montana Rail Link’s 4th Sub, has been over a year in planning. Good planning is critical to success and included getting the maximum amount of mainline into the scheme without a train passing through a scene more than once and working out how to squeeze in a part of the MRL 10th Sub from the junction at DeSmet into the plan when it looked as if the line would head straight into an aisle.

Also important was the width of the aisle between two baseboards. A good way to judge this is to set up a mock up and see if two people can navigate the proposed aisle width comfortably, allowing for the effects that the consumption of real ale can have on men in general.

Yup, that’s me, checking to see if a 40 inch aisle width will work. On the right is Platform 4a & 4b on temporary trestles whilst Dudley Heath Yard is on the left. This mock up exercise using my portable layouts proved to be very useful, providing a visual idea of how the new layout will occupy the space.

Calculating the height of the new layout was also important, the minimum level of the lowest level had to be sufficiently high to accommodate the portable layouts when stored in their transportation racks as seen in the picture above. All of these things together with a host of other issues, measurements and costs had to be decided upon before the first L-girder was assembled and the first leg cut. The floor of the cabin was covered with pieces of tape, with scribbled dimensions marking the position of bench work on them, for ages!