Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Right Frame of Mind

One of the key aspects of converting the J class kits to 18.37mm VR broad gauge, is to return the frames to the prototypical location. Being very close to prototype width, the P87 tire profile permits this to occur.

The frames spacers that come with the kit are considerably narrower than they should be. This has been done to allow the ‘standard’ HO gauge (16.5mm) and RP25-110 tire profile to be used, while preserving the 'correct' overall exterior appearance.

Replacement frame spacers were fabricated from ~0.4mm brass sheet. Apart from the modified width, all other dimensions follow that of the original parts.

The next step will be to modify the infrastructure that is connected to the now wider frames, such as cylinders and the like. That will take place in the new year. Until then, I will be enjoying Christmas with my extended family in Connecticut, USA.

Merry Christmas dudes!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Since the modelling room has been up and running, I’ve been hitting the soldering iron. The J Class tender has been completed, along with a small road grader project .

The tender has come up well, which is a tribute to the manufacturer (Steam Era Models) as much as anything else. As can be seen, the tender is from an oil burning version. However, I’ve started a coal burning kit also. It’ll be interesting to see the differences in the two - apart from the absence of an oil tank, of course! The new frame spacers for the broad gauge conversion have arrived, and will be fitted to the kits tomorrow night. Stay tuned.

After the significant amount of detail on the J Class kit, my eyes were starting to see double. Therefore, I decided that a short diversion was in order. My first visit to Central Hobbies in Vancouver resulted in the purchase of a 120 road grader kit (1:87 scale) from GHQ. It took me around and hour to solder up the white metal components, using low melt solder and a variable temperature soldering iron. It’s a nice kit and will come up well after painting and weathering.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Watson & Co Foundry, Vancouver, Canada

Well, after many months of moving and living in temporary accommodation, my family and I have finally arrived at somewhere permanent!

Apart from being able to relax and ‘put down some roots’, the new place features a basement. This has enabled me to annex two rooms for modelling. After a trip to IKEA, the much dreamt of modelling room exists!

I have also purchased a Badger 260 abrasive gun and sand blasting booth. Used in conjunction with the ultrasonic bath, brass items can be readily cleaned before painting.

I have a lot to do, with the first ‘cab of the rank’ being the two J Class steamers...


Sunday, August 14, 2011

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

While there may have been little VR Days blogging action of late, much work has been afoot on the J Class steam loco kit.

The chassis frames spacers that accompany the kit are 13mm in width, rather than the prototypically correct ~15.9mm (4'6½"). I would guess that this has been made to allow the RP25-110 wheel sets that come with the kit to be fitted. Consequently, the chassis will require new spacers, while all infrastructure associated with them will also need modification (such as the steam chests/cylinders and air tanks located between the frames). I will detail their modification in a future post.

As previously mentioned, continuous spring beam (CSB) compensation is being installed. Therefore, the connecting rods will need to be articulated (currently one piece).

In the mean time, a good modelling mate of mine has turned down all the tires to P87 profile. The driver wheels have been pushed back on to their centres but not yet on to the axles. However, the front pony truck and tender wheels sets are complete (see figures).

On another matter, my family and I are about to relocate from Perth, Australia, to Vancouver, Canada. The removalists are due tomorrow. So you will have to excuse the rather filthy and incomplete tender! On a brighter note, I have made contact with P87 modeller, Rene Gourly, who resides in Vancouver. His works can be found here: We intend to meet up soon after my arrival in Vancouver.

Anyway, to all my modelling mates in Australia (you know who you are), so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Between changing nappies, broken sleep, and a hectic work schedule, I have snuck in some time on the J Class.

Using a chassis jig, loaned to me by fellow modeller, PH, I have set up the frames with the High Level Kits horn blocks. I have only tack soldered the frame together at this point. Just as well, as I have already noticed one minor inaccuracy. (While hidden from view, its existence will irritate me unless rectified!) To ensure correct axel spacing, the chassis jig was set using the side rods from the kit.

For those of you who are interested, the chassis jig is from Hobby Holidays in the UK ( If it’s okay by PH (a guy who has built hundreds steam loco kits, largely for paying customers), then it’s okay by me...


Friday, June 3, 2011

2011 Perth AMRA Exhibition Diorama

Below are some photos of the ‘diorama’ that I have entered in to the Perth AMRA Exhibition, which is taking place this weekend. This module is one of six that will become ‘Sutton Grange’ layout.

The two items of rolling stock feature P87 18.37mm gauge wheel sets (Northwest Short Line), and a VR prototype point (point throw by Steam Era Models). The wheel sets and constructed point work were generously supplied by fellow VR P87 modeller, Damian Chrystie. Cheers, bro.

This was all put together very quickly. However, l have learnt a great deal in the process, which will be used on the remaining 5 modules.

I will be around for much of the Exhibition weekend (held at Claremont Showgrounds). When not helping with the large Hawkesbury River Bridge layout (amazing), I’ll be undertaking some demonstrations. Feel free to drop by and chat.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Broad Gauge J Class

I recently purchased a Steam Era Model’s J Class kit. This will be regauged to 18.37mm using P87 standard wheel profiles.

The driver wheels have been turned down and the wheel centres reduced correspondingly. Full compensation (ie suspension) will be installed using the Continuous Spring Beam (CSB) approach. This will be achieved with hornblocks from High Level Kits in the UK. I have put the horn blocks together and commenced reworking of the side frames to accommodate them (reshaped to enable the square bearing to fit).

The next step will be positioning the hornblocks, using a jig, and then soldering in place. Several other aspects will need to be addressed, such as coupling/driving rod width and associated linkages.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Layout Module and Daughter MkII

With the arrival of our new daughter, Aine (pronounced "Anya" for all you non-Gaelic types), things have been pretty busy. However, I've been sneaking in some modelling here and there.

I will be entering one of my six layout modules in the upcoming Perth AMRA exhibition. The 'diorama' is getting close to completion, but there are still many details that require attention - the track work being the most obvious.

Fellow P87 HOb 5.25 modeller, Damian Chrystie, has made up a VR 'frog' for the point work, and is providing some of his P87 18.37mm wheel sets that he has just received from Northwest Short Line (NWSL) in the US. Cheers, Adrian.


Friday, May 6, 2011

P87 and 18.37mm Broad Gauge: Utter Madness, Sir!

Hi all,

Well I have had been very busy on the modelling front of late. However, I have been equally as busy on the family and work front. This has left me little time to update the blog - something that I will attend to shortly.

I guess the most significant news is that I have decided to model to P87 standards, using 18.37mm gauge (ie true HO scale VR broad gauge).

By joining the ‘criminally insane’, I have taken on a few challenges, including retro-fitting full compensation to my four wheel fleet, and developing P87 standard VR spoked wheels. However, I am reliably informed that this can be overcome by persistence and weekly therapy sessions...

Speak soon,


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

QB Well Wagon: Reprise

Way back in March of last year I posted about my efforts regarding a Steam Era Model’s QB well wagon. After a long hiatus, the model was recently finished. Painting and weathering was accomplished using the same method as those outlined for the QR, in the post below.

This model was completely soldered, apart from some minor details that were attached using ethyl cyanoacetate. Overall, this is a lovely kit to construct, and I would highly recommend it to those with some confidence in their soldering skills.

Update: I have updated the photos, after receiving a new camera.

QR Wagon

I have just completed a Steam Era Model’s QR kit. The first QR wagons were manufactured in 1890, and were used well into the 1980’s. This model represents the three door version, and features inside detailing and an end-mounted handbrake infrastructure.

According to Mark Bau’s site the QR's were relegated to departmental service after a long life as general service open wagons. In departmental service, they often carried sleepers and dirt. The doors were dropped and the sleepers would be manually thrown out of the wagon. They saw occasional service in revenue traffic when wagon supply was scarce.

Tamiya matte acrylic Red Brown (XF 64) was applied as the undercoat, followed by Humbrol matte enamel Red Brown (#100). The Humbrol paint was lightly applied to enable the darker and browner Tamiya undercoat to ‘ghost through’. This resulted in a deeper and much more interesting finish. Next, a coat of Pascoe Long Life floor polish was applied, which provided an even, glossy surface for decals to adhere to. Weathering was achieved by using a heavily thinned 50:50 mix of Citadel’s ‘Chaos Black’ and ‘Scorched Earth’ acrylics paints. The extremely fine pigment in the Citadel paints has really brought out much of the fine detail.

Update: I have updated the photos, after receiving a new camera.


Monday, March 21, 2011

AFV Acrylic Techniques by Mig Jimenez

Why is it that military modellers so proudly strive for prototypical appearance, while such goals are derided as ‘rivet counting’ or ‘elitist’ amongst model train enthusiasts? Discuss in 500 words or less...

I recently borrowed a friend’s DVD called ‘AFV Acrylic Techniques’ by Mig Jimenez. Mig is considered to be one of the best painting and weathering practitioners within the military modeller’s fraternity. For those of you not familiar with his work, please visit his blog site It will take you around 10 seconds to realise that this guy has some serious talent.

The DVD follows the entire process of painting and weathering a WW2 tank, and includes tutorials that cover:

• filters
• washes
• fading
• mud
• rust
• chips
• metal effects
• dust

As the DVD name suggests, Mig uses only acrylic paints. However, I believe that many of the techniques can be used with enamel paints.

If you are striving for a more accurate, prototypical representation when painting and weathering your models, you could do worse than get your hands on a copy of this DVD.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Train Track

After many distractions, I have been able to make some progress on 'the layout', Sutton Grange. Since the most recent post, I have weathered the sleepers and laid some track. The track (Micro Engineering) is laid to 18.2mm gauge, using Code 55 and Pliobond cement. Fish plates (Model Etch) have been added to the track immediately around the first set of points. However, they will eventually be fitted everywhere. Eventually...