BIG NEWS – RTR Andrew Barclay

post-28458-0-92478800-1505119221It was going to happen sooner rather than later…

Hattons have a hit on their hands and I’ve taken all my clothes off and am now running around naked.

Today is a good day.



EXPO-EM (Beer, Trains & Curry)

It’s the morning after a show and people with any sense usually take the Monday off, not at OTCM, straight back to work. We are dedicated like that. As usual we were Portchullin Roadies, with the same mix of trains, beer and curry. It also had it’s usual pitfalls, mainly Marks ropey driving, dodgy wiring and last minute fixes. 

With nothing working and her legs exposed and with opening 3 minutes away, Portchullin is being her typical self
Parking by Mark Tatlow
A Northern trade mark, rain and sun.

But it was all because deep in a dodgy council estate was Parlington liesure centre and EXPO-EM. Under the yellowy light and the sound of lashing rain (rain like only the north can do) was a selection of good layouts and great people.

First up is some photos of Andy Clayton’s mega lush Scottish stock for his forthcoming Queen Street posed on a slighter wider gauge.

We were also really close to Geoff Kent’s Black Lion Crossing which is so good it’s almost indecent. I also spoke to Geoff a couple of times who not only can model top of the range filth is also a nice bloke. 

There was also this North Eastern lovely 

Then we met a man from Australia! Peter from BURROWA was over on holiday and was taking in EXPO-EM and Scaleforum. Why would you not want to spend a day of your holiday in a grey council estate on the outskirts of Manchester? So for his sins he got a shift on the layout.

We also managed to catch up and put loads of faces to names, it was good to meet you all…


Weathering someone else’s weathering

A few weeks ago I got a message from Oly spring up on my phone one evening. ‘MATE LOOK AT YOUR PHONE ITS URGENT’ What could be up, car crash? Kids in hospital? North Korea signalling the end of the world? Turns out it was something far more important, a load of Bachmann 16 tonners had just been listed on eBay with a very reasonable buy it now price!

Eight were duly snapped up for the collection (yes I definitely needed another 8, 45 is nowhere near enough, it’s man maths, don’t ask me to explain) and due to my epic lack of enthusiasm over the past few weeks they got taken out the box and left on the side.

Now the previous owner had fitted these examples with three links and Gibson wheels, good news so far. However they had also done some weathering that had seemingly not gone quite according to plan, leaving me with some cow patterned minerals! 

Last night I finally mustered up the enthusiasm to take on the Freisian rust and see what I could do to improve things – the outcome of which I have to say I’m pretty pleased with, in my eyes a big improvement over what I started with, as these before and after shots hopefully show! 

Technique used was the OTCM standard, involving Games Workshop Typhus Corrosion and a variety of matt browns and blacks from Tamiya, building up the layers and covering the old weathering in the process.

Just got to keep the enthusiasm up and do the other 7 now!


The Tale of Two Chassis

I know, it has been a while. I have been so busy with work, ill kids, dodgy trains and general life, finding the time to write a worthwhile blog post and undertake modelling has taken a bit of a knock.

Now that Uckfield show is a confirmed invite (the layout even features on the website; Uckfield Show 2017) the sheer stomach churning panic that always goes before an exhibition is slowly creeping in. Whoever has exhibited anything before will go through this, it starts with:

‘Oh that is a result getting an invite’



‘What happens if its shit? What happens if it doesn’t work? What happens? What  happens…..’

Or I might be the only one, luckily I do this blog with Chris and he becomes my shoulder to cry on when I require attention or praise like a needy teenager. But it has been very busy all round.

Another new train introduction to manage. Class 717 mock up at Birmingham University, trips to Germany are going to eat into more valuable modelling time.

So in terms of modelling any exotic items not required for Six Quarters are in lock down and its all about dull couplings and weight in wagons, not the sort of stuff to set the pulse racing. I did manage to break my old compressor and buy a new one, the levels of excitement in the shed have almost reached fever pitch.

But I do enjoy exhibiting, so much so I don’t think I could ever build a layout not for exhibiting, its a great time.

Most of the SQ locos that I have accidentally buggered up over the last year that have ended up in that great drawer of ‘I’ll do something with that one day’ have been packed up to Chris’ with a note saying ‘Make work by October 21st. Please’. To which Chris the ever faithfully friend has dully sat in his attic in temperatures reaching 45 degrees centigrade in nothing but his pants to try and fix.

Locos being at Chris’ mean I also get holiday snaps of mine and Chris’ Pecketts mating in their natural habitat (the workbench). Unfortunately no offspring at present.

This has enabled me to concentrate on getting the jobs done on the layout ready for the show, and finally the list is slowly reading ‘complete’. It is mainly decoration now to finish off with a bit of paint to the frame. The layout also, in the last two weeks after HOURS of track cleaning has been working reliably, so reliably in fact I am now convinced I could not of possibly made it.

Sat in the twilight, working
Evie keeping a keen eye out for any operating irregularities  

Locos that are still left in the workshop allocation have been seeing rapid progress to completion

A veteran of the OTCM NCB collection is this ex GWR Pannier
A buggered up Heljan GWR 16XX picked up cheap slowly transforms into something a lot less Swindon.
Then to follow up the T&RS news, the old Barclay recommissioned with a new Giesl injector after the last one was damaged by it’s stupid owner.

And because I am so busy, I have also been volunteering at my local industrial railway (in for a penny in for a pound)

Wife doesn’t believe me that I polished this
Can you believe this was dragged up the Normandy beaches after D-Day to help the invasion?

Now the title? Bit of a mess this post, but there was a lot of odds and sods to catch up on.

Two models have been sat on my workbench and causing me some headscratching.

First up is the Golden Valley/Oxford Rail Yorkshire Janus (quite the mouthful) this model OTCM have been excited about since it was scribbled on the back of a fag packet at Warley about two years ago (could be longer – couldn’t be arsed to check). The NCB version arrived with a mixed reception online, it turned out a rogue element in the factory had been fitting motors the wrong way round and without all the designed flywheels. Cue maximum panic, I knowing my own luck quite well assumed mine would turn up with no motor at all with flywheels no where to be seen. Imagine my surprise when it turned up with a motor the right way around and with all the required bits!

The only downside was it wasn’t painted in NCB blue. It looks as if Oxford Rail only had the colours of a rainbow to choose from.

Not so much NCB Blue…

So I had been humming and hawing about a repainted so that decided it, she is just nearing completion now…

Looking much more at home in Green and Wasp stripes

The second chassis of this sorry tale belongs to the nemesis of this blog, the DJM Austerity. Firstly I point blank refuse to call it a J94, as it isn’t, but DJM likes to do this. This usually I can live with, but as this thing erodes my many calm barriers I can feel myself getting riled.

I have longed for a decent Austerity since time begun, even when it came out with its chunky detailing and its dodgy mouldings I thought ‘hey, I can live with this’. What I cannot live with is the chassis.

Mine ran okay, but it was never what I would call ‘decent’. No where near good enough for Uckfield. In comparison with older 0-6-0s it seemed dam right wrong. Then it starting binding oddly, PMP of Albion Yard has had much the same, mine was particularly bad in reverse. I am no engineer but you know something should sound a certain way and my DJM Austerity sounded like the mechanism was made from assorted off cuts of pig iron.

In the end I reasoned that I should take it apart. In my mind it would come apart like a Bachmann Pannier tank. Nope, it was a like a reverse rubiks cube where you had to try and work out what the original idea was. The exploded diagrams available online are of no use whatsoever, they look like they have been drawn on toilet paper while under an artillery barrage.

A good chassis for me is one that once freed from the motor it should, and everything I have does, be able to be pushed along and all the wheels move freely. However this bugger doesn’t.

To get into the chassis, you have to remove both sets of wheels from the axles (I shit you not) then unscrew the chassis into two halves. When you unscrew the two halves it will go off like a cluster bomb and bits of insulating plastic and cogs will beam across your work area in a dash for freedom. Now at this stage you will have, a chassis plate, two chassis halves, 3 axles, 6 wheels, about 687 screws and enough cogs to put in a swiss watch.

At this stage there is only one thing for it, wine.

So once I had hunted down the bits of plastic you start to realise the original idea. You start to not like the original idea. Or you kind of see what the plan was but it could never work in any way as the cogs have been cut with a butter knife and fit together in a way that can only involve luck.

I decided for me the best form of action was to make this rear axle drive only, and let coupling rods do the work (like normal model trains have done for some years now)

Running to the back axle. The motor sits in the tank above the large cog when all back together. You can see in this photo the black outline of the cogs binding against the chassis and also where that circle touches the black plastic insulating pieces. When the loco was going in reverse or forward minute movement of all the cogs was forcing it against the insulating pieces effectively stopping it dead and making it strain.

I trimmed back the insulation pieces and bolted it all back together, it worked, you could actually move it along with your fingers. I then fitted the couplings rods and it would not work at all. In fact it bent the couplings rods, being cosmetic only and I assume cut from cloth masquerading as metal they did not stand a chance. I then banged on some Comet coupling rods and all was well, then bolts went walk about after it unscrewed itself and I realised I had been working on it solidly for two weeks sapping up all my modelling time. So after showing some promise its been packed off to that roasting hot attic of Chris’. Quite frankly, as much as I like the body, it can stay there. Suffice to say the Uckfield show will be manned by the 30 year old Austerity models from Dapol and Hornby. Such is progress…

Although every time I see this photo I make a pining sound to the model railway gods to miraculously fix it in its box.

Thank you everyone, you keep on coming back,


A summer of no inspiration…

…Yep, you may well have guessed from the lack of activity on here recently, that both myself and Oly have been going through a phase of being completely uninspired. I could lie and say that was due to us enjoying a normal life but the words normal and us don’t really wash… so, while Oly has been LDV van spotting in Scotland, I’ve been farting around with a few models but not really achieving much, and getting stuck on the train for bloody ages trying to get home from the Exeter show…

Last weekend things got back on track a bit though, with one of our roughly quarterly modelling day being held with Mark Tatlow and Pete Bond, in which I actually got some stuff to a standard worth photographing. Given most of the day was spent either taking the piss out of one another, getting soaked in the rain, or in the pub, I feel that’s an achievement worth writing home about!

A break in the British summertime rain this evening gave me the chance to grab some photos in the evening sun, so here are the mediocre fruits of the OTCM summer production:

I’ve got a few Parkside 21 ton minerals together and looking pretty decent, although all are still waiting for buffers, couplings and painting, which will happen at some point…

I splashed out on one and treated it to some Prickley Pear semi sprung W irons, produced by good friend Paul Tasker – this seems to have been successful and it will be interesting to see the difference in running once in the rake. The concept of this system involves the two rocking W irons being linked by fine wire, with a central pivot point to limit the amount of play… therefore providing a halfway house to springing, without the complicated bits!

I also got the chance to weather my pair of Hornby Sentinels over the weekend – these have simply been repainted and (not very well) filled along the seam in the bodyside… which looks worse in the photos than in reality, honest! Shawplan Laserglaze makes a massive improvement too, and that’s about it. There’s still a way to go with these, and they need some identities before too long, but getting them this far has spurred me on a bit…

The colour is inspired by the wonderful shade of green British Steel liked to use in the 1970’s, and weathering has been applied with an airbrush then cleaned back using thinners, building this up layer by layer, until the desired effect is achieved. Dry brushing some detail and a little bit of work with some powders got me to this result, which I am pretty pleased with.

Finally, the arrival of this during the week has got the creative juices running a bit, so let’s see what happens next month! 



Modifying your Hornby Austerity 

It seems like a long time ago now, and in fact it was, but readers with long memories may remember back in February my post showing my Modified Hornby Austerity.

I left that post promising some more on how the modifications were made, if people were interested… well, happily they were (well at least one person was) so the aim of this post is to explain these modifications and how I did them.

Before we go any further please be aware that, as with all OTCM projects the following criteria apply: a) none of it is in any way professional. b) this was made up as I went along so there’s probably a better way of doing it if you actually think about it and. c) there will be at least 3 bodges before the finished result is achieved.

So, with the smallprint out the way, let’s look at what we have and what we are looking to improve upon – the Hornby Austerity, ex Dapol, is a lovely model, especially for its age, but a couple of features really show their age, most noticeable are the incorrectly profiled chassis and the seam between body and chassis which runs along the side of the saddle tank. These are the 2 areas the newer model from DJM has really improved on, so will be the 2 I focus on improving in this post!

The inaccuracies of chassis and saddle tank seam stand out on this (almost) straight from the box example, I don’t think the body is actually screwed to the chassis here so it looks more obvious than it actually is…

First thing is first, remove the body and weight – I also removed the motor to ensure nothing got into it that shouldn’t while I was chopping in that area… that leaves you with something like this:

Next up is to chop along the saddle tank moulding behind the lower handrail – this should then give you a nice piece of saddle tank separate from the chassis. 

Note as a result of this you chop straight through the screw hole for the weight mounting. Don’t panic about this too much, we will overcome that challenge later!

First job now is to attach the weight to the body rather than the chassis – to do this I used a good blob of Araldite and put the body and chassis back together while it set to ensure correct alignment.

The newly separated lower saddle tank sides can now be offered up to the body shell, and providing they fit well, which they should, glued in place – I used a generic superglue for this task…

With the tank now complete as it were, it’s time to add some filler. At this stage it’s worth taking note the main handrails are positioned incorrectly and as such, it’s probably worth removing them and filling the holes they leave at the same time! There’s also a couple of additional handrails and footsteps that shouldn’t be there on a non BR member of the class so these got the chop too… These locos didn’t have conventional handrail knobs and so I replaced with some 0.45 wire cut over length to start with…

After spending some time sanding down the filler to ensure all is smooth, you can do any other bits that you may wish too – I’ve replaced the smokebox door fittings, chimney and handrails as can be seen…

With these bits done the cab was reconnected to the saddle tank and it’s all starting to look the part…

Providing everything is done, the body can now be primed and painted…

Next step is to look at the chassis profile – this is a pretty simple job using a razor saw and some plasticard – you need to build up the chassis ends a bit to allow a straight edge to be achieved then hack away! Although the outcome is probably in no way dimensionally accurate, it definitely evokes the look of an Austerity and therefore is more than good enough for me.

Watching a video of the real thing spanking up Foxfield bank on your iPad in the background is obviously not an essential step but certainly helps with motivation!

Once you’ve done all this, you end up with something looking like this, which, to my eyes at least is a massive improvement on what you started with, while also having kept you entertained for a good few hours and given you a sense of achievement to boot.



Thomas and the Coal Board

“Dad why can Thomas not be on your layout?”

A few weeks ago Evie asked me the above, I looked at her and I geniunely did not have any real reason. I mean apart from the fact he has a face, he’s modelled by Hornby from a period when scaling down dimensions was something for the Europeans, he is blue and his crappy chassis means his reputation as a really useful engine is a tad over egged.

But then blow me down Chris and I are stood falling hopelessly in love with a new and improved American layout at the Chatham show and inbetween the perfectedly modelled rakes comes Thomas in all his finery charging along like a dog on heat. Kids became amazed, they really loved it and lets be honest most of us got into this game through Thomas and his odd selection of friends.
Have a look – its top drawer filth.

So I thought why the hell not, he is cheap for starters which in my world is number 1 and if at an exhibition it gets one kid interested then it would be worth it. Why get hung up about finescale, it should be never be taken too seriously anyway and to be honest a £20 investment is nothing compared to kids seeing their favourite loco making a cameo appearance. A cameo on a cameo? A paradox maybe.

But he had to be knackered and filthy, he is working well past his sell by date and hired by the NCB after all. So somehow, forever smiling, here is Sodor’s numero uno covering for the failed normal Austerity. 

He needs coupling, crew and the wheels cleaning a bit more but you get the idea.
Evie when she saw it smiled in the sort of way only kids can which made it worth while but then turned straight faced, commenting ‘he will be lonely without Percy though’. 

But there is something odd about that model, he sort of radiates happiness and I found myself smiling at it a couple of times. Maybe that inner kid has not quite grown up yet.