Wordless Wednesday

Typically high standards of operation on Mark Tatlow’s Portchullin


Thank you even more, Accurascale!

You may remember a couple of posts ago, I reviewed the new Accurascale 24.5T hoppers and the overall conclusion was that they were top drawer, and probably the best RTR model of a wagon yet produced. In fact the only issue I picked up on was a minor QC issue where the incorrect vertical stanchion had been fitted to one wagon… not a major issue but something worth noting.

Then 2 amazing things happened:

1. It turns out people actually read this blog. (Hard to believe but apparently it’s true.) Some of whom are quite important in the industry. (Even harder to believe but again it’s true.)

2. As a direct result of the above, and via a convoluted route through Paul Marshall Potter and Oly using multiple communication platforms (10/10 for effort), unbeknown to me, Fran, the main man at Accurascale, sent me a new wagon to replace that with the QC slip, which I received last weekend totally out the blue!

Beyond all else, this shows Accurascale are committed to modellers and understand what goes on in this hobby. Given I’d already modified the original and covered it in paint, they are sufficiently proud of their product to send a new one to replace it, understanding people don’t like to leave models untouched. In a world where some manufacturers invalidate any form of warranty the moment you remove a screw or take the body off, this is a refreshing angle and one we must congratulate Accurascale for, although I reckon the number of instances of QC issues are very small in the first place given the quality of the product.

Without wishing to make this sound like too much of an advert, Accurascale have just announced their next model, a Cemflo, which, although rather out of the scope of OTCM, will be another useful wagon type covered to modern standards, so we will look forward to that one!


BWS Update 4: Plodding along steadily

It’s been a while since I last posted a layout update – things have been progressing gradually, but nothing really that exciting has happened to prompt me to write about it…

So what have I managed to do in the last couple of weeks? Well, pointwork construction is now complete and the vast majority of the track is now down – I guess this is quite big news but it’s only happened in small bits!

A catch point has gone in to protect the BR infrastructure from the industrial – this should co-act with the adjacent point but having spoken to various people who know what they are talking about on the subject, I’ll probably just solder it solid.

All rail lengths have had droppers soldered to their bases and passes through the board as part of the track laying process, although only a small detail, not having wires soldered to the side of rails makes a worthwhile difference I find.

Scenery wise, the landscape now has a hard shell of papier-mâché over the polystyrene on the central part of the layout – the sections at each end still need a bit of work to confirm the contours but the bulk is coming together

I was concerned that the baseboard as originally built was a bit too flexible, mainly being constructed from 6mm ply. As such I’ve added some additional framing to the underside and this has strengthened it up considerably, albeit adding quite a chunk of weight… the important bit is I can still carry it upstairs single handedly though!

Last but not least, the outside of the layout has been smartened up with a coat of black paint, which has helped me to visualise the scene inside and how/where to place the various scenic details. It will need another coat but that can wait until I’ve stopped making a mess on the layout!

Next up will be getting the network of wires dangling from the bottom of the layout hooked up and getting the backscene installed I think.


Thank You, Accurascale

Here at OTCM towers, we have always felt sorry for the British Railways standard 24.5T Hopper, or at least for its model brethren.

This poor chap has been overlooked for many years, an accurate model escaping the attention of not only the RTR manufactures but also the kit companies for at least 3 decades. K’s produced a white metal kit, but for a reason unknown to man, decided to base this kit on the prototype example, of which only one was built, rather than the production batch which totalled over 5000… talk about maximising your market!

Parkside joined the RTR guys in ignoring the 24.5T, even though we all hoped that following their successful 21T Hopper kit this would follow, and then DJ Models announced they would be producing it. At this point our hearts sank, now the model had been announced no one else would be interested in producing it, but in standard DJM style, we wouldn’t see any results for what would seem like 36 years, if at all.

Fortunately at the same time, the internet started generating rumours that another company had also scanned the preserved example, although everything was very hush hush – que much relief in OTCM circles.

Less than a year later Accurascale have produced and delivered a bloody gorgeous model of the prototype, one that pushes the standards for RTR wagons further than has been achieved before. To have done this for what is, essentially, £20 per wagon is quite an achievement, and keeps the price in line with contemporaries from established players in the market, such as the Hornby coke Hopper. That isn’t to put the Hornby Hopper down, it’s a lovely model and Accurascale have been able to take advantage of a couple of years development in manufacturing techniques, but their offering certainly has the edge.

The model really is top quality, but can obviously be improved on further with some weathering and better couplings. Other than this I didn’t see the need to do much to the first of two packs, other than remove the power station circuit branding – while having one wagon ‘off circuit’ seemed feasible, 3 in a rake was unlikely so these patches were removed with a little thinners and a cotton bud. Instanter couplings were then fitted, Smiths links with Exactoscale Instanter links which clipped into the plastic coupling hooks making installation on all 3 wagons a 15 minute job.

Weathering was in the usual OTCM style – a right mix of Tamiya, Revell, Games Workshop and artists acrylic colours with an emphasis on black and dark browns, laid on heavily and then removed with thinners to leave a varied pattern. The aim has been to create something that looks good from a normal viewing distance and passes muster up close, rather than going for out and out accuracy and detail on each wagon.

Now in the interests of fairness, it only seems right to mention a bit of a QC issue on one wagon I didn’t notice until I started vandalising, in that the last photo above shows that one of these has 2 of the central pillars fitted rather than 1 as should be the case. The expectations of many that a factory can turn out thousands of products with many individual parts and not a single defect drive me insane (let’s look at the bigger picture guys) and I could have sent this back for an exchange but I doubt it will be noticed in reality, so this isn’t a moan, more just to highlight an issue. Obviously we are always fair on OTCM so if Accurascale want to send me some free stuff I can make the above comment go away!!! (Nudge Nudge Wink Wink, with a pinch of salt…)

I’ve got another pack to work on (they are tempting, these things) but will spend a bit more time on them, these having been rushed through so that they can appear on SQ at the GCR Model Event next weekend, if you are there please do stop by and say hello or similar (a moderate bit of abuse might be tolerated – ed)



Post Post Note: Having reading this Post, Fran, the main man at Accurascale, was concerned to see that a QC issue had slipped through the net, and subsequently replaced the wagon in question, please see my follow up post, Thank You Even More, Accurascale!

Hatton’s AB Review – RTR Coal Board

As the avid readers of OTCM are more than aware we’ve never been flush with cash here at OTCM towers and now as I currently bump blindly through my divorce I’m now tighter than a duck’s behind. This meant that I had to cancel my pre-ordered Hatton’s Andrew Barclays. I know, I can hear the violins playing from here, so here is a later than planned review. With added thanks to my new girlfriend for buying me it for my 30th (thought I’d ask for it in while the goodwill was still there)

Hot on the heels of the Hornby Peckett and Oxford Janus a ‘proper’ NCB tank engine was not far off and fair play to the Scousers at Hattons for taking up the mantle. These new retailer lead projects are bringing more and more unique and interesting models to the market. I am not sure the new Hatton’s class 66 is needed but as I said to Chris it does have rotating axles and I am sucker for that kind of crap.

Usually reviews start by saying ‘it comes in a sturdy box …’ it does indeed come in a box, I think if it came wrapped in used tissue with a pink bow stuck on it, it maybe worth mentioning in a review. Assume all models come in boxes.

Anyway once out of the sturdy box it’s weight is immediately noticeable but it does look the part, it must be said I have never looked at a scale drawing of anything but I imagine if you did this would look like the drawing. My niggles are small and make me feel petty but the glazing can be a bit of an eye sore as it’s a chunk of see through plastic and in a cab so exposed just looks ropey. My advice is pop it out and if you particularly want it a blob of glue n’ glaze will do.

There are some seams on the chimney and holes for a pipe in the buffer beam. Both tooling compromises and easy enough to sort. The only real ‘biggy’ is the solid boiler area under the tanks, again a compromise in a model of this size. Does that bother me? Nah not really, I know high level are talking about a chassis but for what I need mine for and in the OTCM world of “that’ll do” it is more than adequate.

Hattons told me at Ally Pally that the easiest to install 6 pin DCC decoder is the Gaugemaster DCC23 which seemed mental advice considering they do their own 6 pin.

I need to put my hand in my pocket and buy a 6 pin, as it’s only run very briefly on DC but reports elsewhere say these things are good as gold. Whether it will run okay on my dodgy tile grout covered p-way is a different matter though.

Hattons have also impressed with video tutorials and sensible project updates.

For example here is the one for the DCC install along with the project page from the website:

Hatton’s AB DCC Install

AB Project Page

So should you buy one? Yeah, definitely, at £99 its okay value, no bargain but you don’t feel like you have been robbed by a man in a balaclava holding a machete.

There are a ton of variations on the same theme and all are lovely.

In a brief period of modelling this month here is my No 6 completely going against my new ethos of ‘test thoroughly then weather’.

Overall 8.5 out of 10. It would of been a 9 but the box let it down only being a box.




Pointwork Progress

Yes that’s right, a post on a Wednesday involving words!

It’s been a fair bit of time since we last made a proper post on here, please rest assured we have both been turning out various bits and pieces, Oly working on a number of different wagon projects ahead of Six Quarters next Exhibition outing at the Great Central Railway Model Event on 15-17 June, while I have been cracking on with trackwork and basic scenery for Bottom Works Sidings.

It’s been a while since I last built any pointwork for myself, I served my apprenticeship in trackbuilding putting together the points that appeared on Stoating Bank many years ago (which never actually got used in anger) and then followed this up building some for a failed club layout, which were far from perfect. Therefore I put off starting the track needed on BWS for a bit of time and tried to find other things to distract me until the issue became pressing.

Starting with a couple of straightforward points, I built 2, then redid the first as I wasn’t happy with it, but am now in a rhythm and enjoying building them, particularly the more challenging examples. All are simply copperclad construction, I made a firm decision to walk before I could run and therefore avoided any cosmetic chairs or more realistic sleepers.

BWS has a requirement for 4 regular and 1 interlaced (often described as 3 way) points. At the moment these all still need tie bars, the copperclad filing back to insulate the rails and sleepers trimming to length, but I am pretty happy with what has been achieved so far – the aim is that the pointwork will all be irregular and help give the impression the yard is somewhat rundown, various aspects having been built up locally on site leading to a slightly haphazard appearance.

These two Y’s were the first to be built, one of which is impressively compact! Ignore the interlaced point, more on that later…

Sleepers being laid on a temporary foam board sub base for the crossing leading to the sidings at the front of the layout.

Crossover for the front of the layout in place… the kickback siding is meant to represent the old line into the Bottom Works’ which has been lifted and is now just a short siding used for storing cripples and other wagons that need placing somewhere out of the way.

Now back to that 3 way… I started building this, very much making things up as I went along, and at the last modelling day we held was busy working away, having received plenty of pointers from Mark Tatlow… anyway to cut a long story short, he got fed up weathering his own stock and took over building my point, while I ended up weathering for him… cue a beautiful piece of point construction with just one issue, it didn’t really fit the space allocated to it! No matter what I tried I was unable to get the curve to the track plan I was after with it in place.

I therefore took the brave decision to save Mark’s point for the next layout and build my own, which I’m not about 3/4 of the way through, this one fits the alignment of the layout much better and helps the rearmost lines sweep through the centre of the layout.

As you can probably see, there’s some basic landforms also going in, and everything is starting to come together as I envisaged it.

I’m pretty sure my trackbuilding wouldn’t conform to P4 standards but testing with OO stock seems to prove it works so that’s good for me, and it’s certainly given me the confidence to take on more complex formations in the future. I haven’t even suffered from too many burnt fingers so things can’t be bad!