Dark Winter Nights………

I have never gone along with the idea of dark winter nights being ideal for modelling. Instead I find myself going into hibernation mode, making myself comfy with a good book, or perhaps a selection of modelling magazines from years past. Any modelling at this time of year usually takes place early in the morning, long before the light begins to fade. So I have turned my attention to completing a few simple projects that could be worked on from the comfort of my favourite chair. I started off by weathering my Dapol 16T mineral wagon, and then painted and lettered a couple of kit built wagons.

Starting with the mineral wagon I first searched for a couple of photos showing the sort of finish that I was after. Better to model what you see rather than make things up as you go along. All too often the poor old mineral wagon is modelled in a heavily weathered condition, looking more like condemned wagons rather than those still in service. Yes they did suffer from neglect, but if you look at photos of typical goods trains from the mid 1950’s through to the early 1960’s some look rather new. No surprises there for they were still being built, repaired and refurbished.

With this particular wagon I have tried to capture the appearance of the early signs of corrosion. The chassis was painted in Lifecolor weathered black followed by gentle washes of Lifecolor frame dirt, and brake dust pigments. I used Humbrol light and dark earth to create the rust patches, which were then stippled with various rust weathering powders whilst still wet. Black patches for the ‘Railtec’ lettering were hand painted with the same weathered black, the lettering was applied and then the body was given several light washes of Lifecolor smoke.

These two wagons have been waiting for a coat of paint for over a year. To be honest I had lost confidence in my usual choice of enamels, which lacked consistency. I could never be sure how they would cover or dry. So having heard good things about ‘Lifecolor’ acrylics I invested in a selection of colours and weathering pigments. Money well spent in my opinion for I am finding them to be superb, and that is from someone who couldn’t previously get on with acrylics! Both models were brush painted in BR unfitted grey, the chassis was painted in weathered black and the roof in, well roof dirt. Lettering is from the Railtec range, and both wagons now await a touch of weathering. The 5-plank open is meant to represent a Diag. 04 and is one of the old Coopercraft kits which are now marketed by Slater’s. Rather than build the kit as intended I have modelled it to represent one of the wagons taken into the RCH pool in 1927. So the Dean / Churchward brake gear as supplied with the kit has been replaced with the RCH pattern, and the sheet rails have not been fitted. The various ex GWR opens are a bit of a minefield, and in this case I have referred to the notes with the kit and various photos. I am not claiming that the model is 100% accurate, but I am happy with it. The kit is designed to be built in rigid form and runs just as well as some of my other wagons which are compensated, a lesson to be learned there I think?

The covered van which was built from a Parkside kit has been modelled to represent one of the last unfitted V24 versions. This kit presented a few challenges due to the poor fit of the body components around the corner angle irons and the amount of vertical slop in the axle boxes. The latter being designed to move freely up and down without any means of control. It is possible to install a crude form of springing, but I placed the model on a piece of glass, cemented the axle boxes in place and found that the van rolled extremely well in rigid form. The gaps around the angle irons were filled with pieces of microstrip and then dressed with nail boards and fine wet and dry paper.

The next job in the queue was the platelayers hut, though I don’t set myself deadlines I planned on having the hut in place on the layout by the end of the year. It is a scaled up version of my old Coopercraft model, which featured on both Penhydd and Llangunllo. The basic shell was constructed from 60 thou styrene sheet, Evergreen strip and Slater’s embossed brick. The door and window shutter planking was created with an Olfa Scriber, and all the hinges are from styrene strip.

I did consider modelling a corrugated iron or felt roof, which would be perhaps more appropriate for a building of this type. But then thought it would provide a good test bed for using individual card slates, as I’m going to need plenty of those for the crossing keepers cottage!

Two postcards were painted in to represent slates by mixing white and black acrylic paints. The slates on the 4mm model scaled out at 12″ square for the visible area, so I made my 7mm slates the same scale size plus a small margin for the overlap. Each slate was then laid along guide lines marked on the roof and secured with dilute PVA. It is not as boring as you might think and the roof was soon complete. I made several larger slates as older buildings seem to have been patched up with whatever was to hand around the village where I live. The hut was painted with ‘Lifecolor’ weathered black, and weathered with washes of Lifecolor smoke and rail dust. Ridge tiles are from 20 thou sheet, and half round styrene section, they were painted in Railmatch brick and toned down with the same washes. The chimney was painted with Humbrol light earth enamel and dry brushed with weathered black to represent soot deposits, the whole model was then given a dusting of talc and a 3D printed chimney from ‘Model Railway Scenes’ completed the build. The oil drum is also from the same ‘Model Railway Scenes’, I would provide a link but WordPress is being awkward at the moment.

The scene is far from complete, long static grasses will eventually be added around the hut. A gate will provide access from the road and the whole area will be enclosed with spear fencing. Some rusted drums will litter the area and those sleepers will end up being buried amongst the undergrowth with them. I can also see a push bike propped up against one of the walls. It is a waste of time adding those details until the scenery has been completed along the station approach, as I only would run the risk of causing damage.

I doubt much work will be carried out on the layout until well into the New Year now, but I will continue to work on some more goods wagons, and might even weather 7719.


9 thoughts on “Dark Winter Nights………

  1. The lesson to be learned about compensation is that if you lay your track with care – as I know you do – then compensation is a desirable luxury for short wheelbase 4 wheel wagons (and bogies). Also, you are using 31.5mm gauge track with “standard” 0F wheels, so there is a little bit extra depth to the flange, so it all works out rather nicely. Fine modelling to fine tolerances leads to fine running!


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    1. A good point well made Simon.

      I have come under fire in some quarters for building my own track and for choosing a track gauge of 31.5mm, when there is a perfectly good off the shelf track system available. My critics have accused me of trying to be clever and don’t seem to have considered that I enjoy track building, or that I couldn’t have created Bleddfa Rd. in its present form by using the standard geometry of ready to lay points.


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      1. You’ve been criticised for making your own choices?

        Good grief.

        Whilst I am always happy to share my learning and experiences, it’s never mandatory for anyone else to follow – and no one else can tell me how to enjoy my hobby. Well, they can try…

        What is wrong with these people?


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      2. “What is wrong with these people”?

        Perhaps it is a case of it being okay for some of us to model to a certain standard as long as they can have the same. Trouble is they can’t be arsed to learn new skills and techniques to improve their modelling, so until the RTR manufacturers come to their rescue, there is an air of resentment.

        Take the whole so called ‘finescale’ movement, lots of folk have no time for it, but are first in the queue when the latest model packed with fine detail, or ready to lay bullhead track and points appears.


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  2. Keep up the good work Geoff, and always good to see the latest news from your workbench.

    I’m another convert to Lifecolor acrylics having given up on enamels. Acrylics don’t quite behave exactly as I always want them to, but near enough.

    Its not so much the absence of light that I’m struggling with this winter, rather my room lighting distorts the colours – my current weathering project looks awful when I leave it, but (mostly) better next day on the windowsill beside my desk. Could be worse, could be the other way round!

    Look after yourself my friend,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is always good to hear from you:-)

      So you are another convert to Lifecolor paints, I was getting nowhere fast with acrylics until I tried them. Brush painting is now an absolute joy and my confidence in painting my models has been restored:-) However I have exactly the same problem as yourself when it comes to painting under artificial light. One of the advantages of retirement is being able to take advantage of natural lighting conditions:-)

      Take care out there, stay well and enjoying your modelling.


  3. Strangely enough Geoff, as I left the modelling den after a couple of hours this afternoon I was thinking one of the main benefits of retirement to me is not having to be working on my models at night!

    Another really interesting update, I like the weathering on the wagons and that really is a lovely little hut – wouldn’t mind a real one like that in the back garden as a new ‘modelling den’…!! 🙂

    Super heading piccie again too!

    Hope you are keeping well,



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Keith,
      Night time modelling has never suited me, when I was working I was too tired to do anything when I got home, and now in my old age my eyes aren’t up to the task. To make things worse I have always been a lark rather than a night owl:-)

      Thanks for your kind comments about my wagon weathering, the hut and heading photo.

      I’m not doing too badly all things considered thanks, my treatment makes me tired and ill from time to time, but I’m managing to cope with things.

      Best wishes to you and your family.

      Liked by 1 person

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