16mm Roundhouse Little John


I recently had a bit of a go at this Roundhouse Little John for a friend.

It was in ex factory gloss maroon, and the brief was to achieve a finish more typical of a well-maintained working loco.

To start with a coat of Humbrol matt 49 was applied to the whole loco after we had split the bodywork from the chassis.

This muted the original finish and allowed a certain amount of bite for the subsequent layers.

To start with the cab exterior was masked up to avoid overspray, and the interior was primed with white and sprayed in a variety of earth and buff shades to represent the cream interior.

Once set the masking was reversed to prevent overspray onto the cab interior

The paintwork was faded a little with a couple of thin passes of acrylics first to add some lowlights, followed by a match the original maroon, and finally the upper surfaces were picked out in a lighter shade with some sand tones added.

The chassis and footplate were sprayed with a warm dark gray, with a couple of passes of a lighter shade.

Once set up a standard oil wash was followed with a couple of dry brushed passes.

Some minimal rusting was applied with a sponge to panel edges where wear would occur. This was followed by some linear scratches to represent encounters with the undergrowth, with catch lights added where appropriate.

The exhaust stack was sprayed in various rust shades and finished with weathering powders and ground chalks.

To finish the various subassemblies were lacquered with more Humbrol 49 before reassembly. The job was completed with a couple of passes of earth shades to represent road grime followed by a touch of graphite to represent worn metal on cab edges handrails etc.

This was a bit of an experiment to try and avoid a full respray, I think it has worked well and is a quick and easy solution if the base coats are in good order.


Departmental wagons for sale


In a departure from normal we have a pair of Departmental wagons for sale. These were originally a commission that fell foul of the Corona virus lockdown.

These wagons represent a 50’s era 2’6″ gauge wagon reduced to 2′ gauge, typical of Departmental wagons that you can find on many preserved railways.

Dimensions are, L over couplers 142mm W 85mm, deck height is 43mm from the wheel flanges.

These are built from styrene section, and chequer plate, the axleguards are whitemetal with brass bearings. They are running on Binnie 16″ wheelsets set to 45mm, these could, theoretically, be altered to 32mm, but I think these would look a bit odd because of the overall width. The couplers are Talisman 78-004’s and the wagons are detailed with welds, moss growth etc.

There is a pack of details supplied with them including timber baulks, chain, chain tensioner, lump hammer, pry bar, and fallen leaves.

All the items are fully painted, weathered and lacquered.

These are offered as shown as a pair for £240.00 plus postage, I would be happy to consider deals, swapsies or whatever.


If you are interested please contact me via the usual address si(at)modelearth.net


Thanks for looking

Loco Coal Wagon part 2


With all the sub-assemblies primed, the next task is to construct the paint finish.

The mine tub was under-painted in dark rust shades, initially using an airbrush, three passes, the first shadow spayed with a darker version of the base colour. The panels were done using the base colour as is, and then some highlights added with a lightened tone. When dry I broke up the finish with a couple of dry-brushed passes and some stippling.


The interior received a couple of additional passes with a gunmetal shade, lightened with silver as a base for the worn metal effects. With all of the pre-painting completed it was sealed with a couple of coats of Games Workshop lacquer, whatever they are calling Purity Seal this week.


The inside was protected with masking tape, a finger run over the sticky side makes it a little less tacky and so less likely to lift the paint. This was followed by three passes of AK’s worn effects fluid. This is a water-soluble fluid that allows subsequent layers to be softened with water and abraded, to represent the effects of paintwork that has worn away to expose the surface underneath.

Coal 14

With the barrier layer dry, I then airbrushed the outside of the tub with a grey shade mixed from black and white. I wanted this to be visually different to the chassis and ironwork, which would end up as a warm dark grey to represent weathered black.

As always three or four passes to add variations into the finish, and adding lighter shades to the upper areas of the panel work to accentuate the effects of sunlight.


After again allowing this layer to set up, I dampened the surface, and went at it with a combination of stiff brushes, and a cocktail stick to represent scratches.


The chassis was airbrushed with black let down with a warm grey, once dry the bare wood, along with the scotch blocks were brush painted with a combination of warm grey and earth tones, before an oilwash of black/raw umber mix. The ‘black’ was dry brushed with progressively lighter shades of the black warm grey mix, while the bare wood had a couple of mixes of the grey lightened with a bone colour.

I adjusted the tone of a couple of planks, and accentuated the grain with a wash of raw umber artists acrylic. The final highlights were applied in the bone colour with a brush, with regard to the direction of the light source, coming from the right.


The couplers and wheelsets were treated in the same way as the chassis, with some final detailing of rust marks using a mix of Venetian red and black oil paints thinned to a wash with white spirit.


The final detailing of the tub paintwork involved a couple of dry brushed passes on the grey followed by adding catch lights to the underneath of scratches and paint damage.

This was followed by a pass of the Venetian red/black mix, where appropriate this was applied as a small dab, and then drawn down using a clean brush moistened with white spirit, to represent rust streaks from exposed metal work. With all the paintwork set up each of the components was lacquered with Humbrol Matt 49 from a rattle can prior to final assembly.


With the wagon assembled it was time for a few final details. The empty coal sacks were sculpted in epoxy putty over cling-film, to start with the putty was rolled out using talc to prevent sticking, the texture was embossed with an old t-shirt. Painted in acrylics with the ingrained coal dust from grimy black weathering powder. The shovels were cleaned up and blackened before burnishing the metal parts with fine wire wool. The handles were spot primed with white cellulose and painted with acrylics followed by a raw umber oil wash. The coal is the real deal smashed up and sifted.


I hope you find some of these techniques useful in your own modelling.



Loco Coal wagon part 1


I have recently put together a Loco coal wagon, and as I haven’t written a step by step for a while here we go.

This is based on a Swift Sixteen 7/8ths mine tub, Slater’s 18″ web spoked wheels, with Talisman brass for couplers and axle boxes. Here are the basic components ready for primer.

The Tub was mastered for 32mm inside frame so a new chassis was needed to take 45mm wheelsets. I laminated 2mm styrene sheet using Gel super glue for the solebars and end beams, and then ripped up the sections required on the table saw. The grain was scribed in using, scalpel, file and wire brush, before removing any stray whiskers of styrene with a nylon scouring pad.

The main chassis members were assembled with MEK using a square. Once set up I detailed the chassis with faux tennons, and punched styrene NBW’s

The tub is from Swift Sixteen, it is the usual mix of excellent mastering and fine casting from Rob.

I started by removing the rivets on the coupler blocks before taking them off with a careful pass through the table saw, I added the securing angles and detailed them with the rivets I had removed earlier. A final clean up of the mould line was followed by a stipple of Mr Surfacer on the exterior plate-work to give a bit of additional texture.

The wheelsets are from Slater’s, their 18″ web spoked, I dropped the wheels off of the axles before turning down the ends, and taking a very fine cut from the area of the journals to give a looser fit.

The inside bearings are for a nominal 1/4″ axle, I ran a broach through them before cleaning them up and adding a little more texture to the castings with a ball router in my mini drill. With the axles reassembled I slung the whole wheelset in blue Jollop to blacken the brass and rust the steel.

The couplers are Talisman 78-019 Bellmouths I marked the position of the small holes in the backing plates, before drilling the end beams. I silver soldered the main castings to the backing plates before removing the cast 4BA mounting stud, and blackening the castings.

I tried all sorts of combinations to provide some brake gear for this wagon, and nothing looked right to my eye. Eventually I came up with the simplest solution, a pair of scotch blocks, with locating hooks to hang them off of the end of the tub, carved styrene, for the blocks with bolts and chains for interest, and some bent brass strip for the hooks.

A test fit of the main components cleaned, primed and ready for paint.

Paintwork next.


Churchwater Loco

Due to the current Corona virus issues the 16mm AGM has been postponed, we were hoping to have a number of releases at the show including the Churchwater loco.

This is 1/12th scale 32mm gauge only

The masters for this have been a long time in preparation, the loco is closely based on Brian Clarke’s drawings, the idea is that a wagon chassis has been adapted to take the power unit from a tractor with a wriggly tin superstructure to fend off the worst of the weather.

I have made a few alterations to the original to get the mechanicals a little more plausible, but it certainly capture the spirit.

The gearbox/axle from the tractor contains a 6v N20 motor and the forward and reverse lever as in our Tyke loco. The power pack is split between the engine and the chassis.

There are still a number of components to be completed, including the exhaust, drive chain case and an ammunition box to the rear of the cab to hose the charge/run switch and the charge socket.

The figure shown is a placeholder, he gives an idea of how tiny this loco is, I will be sculpting a dedicated figure to suit.



Australian Bush Fires


As you will probably know we work closely with the Australian company Short Staff.

My resin guy, Matt at Meadow Castings and I have been appalled by the recent events in Australia with the bush fires, and wanted to do something to help.


To this end Matt, Short Staff and I have all waived our costs, expenses and fees on Short Staffs’ two iconic 7/8ths scale Australian figures, Digger and Kylie so that the full purchase price of £18.50 can be donated to supporting the Fire Fighters via this site :-


Both figures are available now, to purchase one, or both, please contact me :-


Not only will your purchase directly assist those fighting these terrible conflagrations on the ground, but it will show a great Nation that they are not forgotten at this time.



Building A Better Skip

With the recent mastering of trunnions and stanchions I have had a go at producing a more accurate miniature skip.

Many manufacturers have had a go at skips over the years, both Rugga and Continental patterns, most have had issues to some degree or other, accuracy, the production medium, the construction method, appearance etc.

As those that know me will be aware I love skips and all the varieties of the weird and wonderful that have been built over the years, so this is an attempt to bring together a selection of components to provide as accurate a model as possible, by no means perfect, but, I think, a step up.

This is a representation of an Allen’s of Tipton 27 cu ft skip from 1920 this is an English pattern skip recognisable by the flat top to the skip bucket.

I started with the skip itself, this is from Simply 7/8ths etched in nickel Silver, I have replaced the supplied trunnions with a pair of ModelEarth ones and added many additional rivets in styrene using a punch and die set, along with some works plates from the axlebox conversion set that ModelEarth supply. I will add some remnant’s of its last load to add interest, and disguise some of the gags in the interior from filling the half etch on the plate work at the bottom. Sadly the rest of the kit will not be of use on this build.



The chassis is a modified ModelEarth resin casting, I removed the moulded couplers, and re-scribed the buffing plate to represent the wood blocks often added to prevent the prototypes buffing plates from too much abuse, the buffing plates themselves are Talisman brass. I added a loco haulage centre beam from styrene section, and the side plate used to attach the pressed steel chassis of the original. The end stanchions are resin with the reinforcing gusset reshaped, and the straps underneath are from styrene, the multitude of rivets are punched styrene.



The Axleboxes started out as Talisman castings, I have added the etched Allen’s conversion, of all the product that ModelEarth offers, these are probably of which I am most proud, splendidly originated by Allen Law, properly left field! The filler corks are from punched styrene.


For wheelsets are from The Train Department in the U.S. in practical terms about the best 14″ skip wheelsets you can get, ours have the edge on detail but the TD ones sound so much better when running.


Finally a couple of shots of the components placed together.


Next up will be priming and finishing.


Autumn Releases



We have our last show of the season coming up in Exeter on 26.10.19 As always we will have a variety of new releases to tempt you

The latest addition to our range of bodies to fit our skip chassis is a home brewed

Manrider Four pieces of resin £22.00


I have mastered up a set of skip trunnions, I will use these on the upcoming skip buckets that I am working on, they can also be used to accurise the Simply7/8ths etched skip bucket. Skip trunnions pair £8.00


I have been adding to the list of components for a 20/28 Simplex in 7/8ths with a bonnet   £24.00 and a brake stand £10.00


The first results from acquiring the Back2Bay6 loco range is a set of Ruston cab controls in whitemetal £22.00 Ideal for detailing up the PDF printed Ruston kit.


Finally two additions to the ModelEarth figure range, of correctly proportioned people. These are hand sculpted and intended to complement the scanned and printed figures that are currently offered, more detail for less money!

Victorian driver £22.50


Female loco Engineer £22.50


Thanks for looking


Latest figure releases


We will be at the Llanfair show in less than two weeks, here are the latest Short Staff releases that will be available there.

Lovebirds, these two are sold as a pair unpainted for £37.00

U.S. loco crew, these are available as a pair for £37.00 or individually, Clint the driver for £18.50 and Wyatt the fireman for £20.00

Thanks for looking



Kerr Stuart Wren

I recently took delivery of one of Accucrafts new 7/8ths Wrens. I was suitably impressed when it arrived but with Roger from Statfold as my aiming point, there were (I thought) just a few tweaks that I could make to lift it.


I dropped the end beams off, replaced the couplers a little higher with some Talisman 78-019 Bellmouths, and swapped out the Philips screws for some hex heads. The beams were sprayed up with a darkish red, and brighter tones were introduced with drybrushing, along with scratches and grime

I wanted an open coalbunker in the left side, that involved unsoldering the lid, that of course damaged the paint, oh how we laughed! This obviously meant a strip using standard cellulose thinners, and re-spray of all the tinwork with enamels. I took the opportunity to add some shading and highlights to break up the sameness of the gray before lacquering, and sending it off to Matt Acton for lining and lettering. The most complicated bit was removing the cylinders, valve chests off upwards and then the cylinders unbolt and come away sideways.

By now replacing the right hand bunker lid with a nice wooden one was on obvious call.A nice piece of well seasoned pear wood had a lovely fine grain, and following a hard fought struggle with my table saw, the job was a good one, but strewth that pear wood was hard!

By this stage I have reduced a £1600.00 loco to a pile of bits in poly bags and an ice cream tub, still onwards and upwards!

With the wheels and the brake gear off I was able to get the chassis into the dishwasher to get it completely grease free, prior to paint.

Wren 1

At this stage I replaced most of the visible Philips screws with hex heads mostly M 1.6 with a few M2 and the chassis was ready for paint. Sadly not possible with the front beam mounting angles, there was just no clearance, however I am not sure I can live with them so still searching for a solution.

The chassis was airbrushed with enamels for durability, aiming for a warm dark grey rather than pure black. I left this for several days to set up before an oilwash and drybrushing in the usual way. To complete the worn feel I added a few watermarks and rust streaks, taking care not to overdo the effect


The wheels were stripped and painted the same shade of gray, with the rims in white for a bit of contrast.

With all this set up, I was finally able to start reassembly. The rods were stripped of the red paint, blackened and polished, and with the horn blocks oiled, the rear wheelsets went back in.

I dropped the packing plates off of the front horn guides and added a pair of coil springs each side. The horn blocks come with a pair of indents and the top of the horn guides have a convenient pair of lugs so adding the springs was really straight forward.

The basic chassis back on its feet with the end beams and brake gear reattached.


I had the bodywork back from Matt Acton this week, beautiful job.

Here the cylinders and slide bars have been refitted, again replacing Philips headed screws with hex heads. The rest of the bodywork is just placed, note the wooden lid on the right hand coal bunker.

I have worked on the various brass castings, stripping the original paint, cleaning up and blackening. A final working over with a nylon pan scourer gives the effect that you can see. The castings are really nice and look good against the gray paint work.

I have re-lacquered the bodywork to bury the lining and lettering, and have started to add some subtle weathering and water stains.


Valve gear and rods refitted along with the lubricator.


One of the last jobs on the chassis would, I thought, be fairly straightforward, the reverser.

I have fitted the excellent David Bailey reverser to most of the steam fleet, so that was my first choice. I was aware I would l need to limit the travel to suit the Hackworth valve gear, and while I was at it I bushed the mounting holes for the quadrants to use 12BA bolts rather than the original 8BA which I find a little too robust.


Sadly no joy, even with the smaller bolt heads it was still to wide to fit between the boiler and the right hand bunker.

Aha I thought if we raise the quadrants above the bunker cover all would be fine, so a new mounting bracket was fabricated.


This worked but raised the lever so far up it looked ridiculous plus it was likely to hit the driver in the reverse position and the cab support in forward, back to the drawing board.

The third, and successful solution was to keep the original support bracket, and fabricate a new lever, that looked more realistic. The latching mechanism is a dummy, the original Accucraft arrangement works on a different principle, although you can still fiddle with the handle. All of the non prototypical elements are hidden between the bunker and the boiler, all the bits you can see look believable.


The version shown here is just blackened, I will get it painted up and installed, next up tweaking the boiler fittings, and getting the boiler back in.

The reverser painted and installed


With bunkers , roof and driver placed, it is possible to get an idea of how the finished loco will look.