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.




Recent Developments


Talisman Brass has used Priory Cast Products for many years. We have always had great service from Richard Henshaw and his team for both mould making as well as casting.

Richard had chosen a well-deserved retirement, and with a slight name change to Priory Cast Products Ltd passed the business on to new owners in December.

This change of ownership was accompanied with a promise of continuity and an immediate 15% price hike.

Since December delivery times have increased substantially, a recent e-mail offering 4-6 weeks, as opposed to the 7-10 days under Richards leadership.

The quality of the castings has been pretty good, but sadly the admin side has been getting worse and worse possibly as a result of the “new computerised database”

Events reached a head earlier this week, the latest order arrived, but the accompanying invoices were all over the place and adrift by hundreds of pounds.

A phone call to try and sort this out ended with the person responsible telling me not to give her a hard time, suggesting that Talisman’s business was not financially worthwhile, they didn’t want it and would I collect the moulds.

This brings to an end a relationship which had lasted for nine years.

I am not surprised that the new regime could not make it pay, one page of an invoice for £302.00 was adrift by approx £240.00 to their detriment, my attempt to increase the amount I was paying being met with “don’t give me a hard time”!

When I collected the moulds I was informed that they were not interested in  model railway business, so presumably this will effect all of the other suppliers that have been given the joyous opportunity to interact with these clowns.

Talisman are actively seeking a new brass founder, hopefully with some basic numeracy and administration skills, we have pretty good stocks on the shelves at present, but there will, I am sure be some delays whilst we bed in the new supplier, please bear with us, normal service will be resumed asap.


New Releases April 2019

We have the first of our new Churchwater releases available :-

Chassis £22.00
Flat £27.00
Bulkhead flat £30.00
Slab Carrier £27.00
Four Plank £30.00

All feature a Pressure cast resin chassis, with Talisman brass couplers, whitemetal axleboxes, and Binnie wheelsets, this range is 1:12the scale and for 32mm only.

The loco masters have been delayed with the pressure of other task in the workshop, but are now nearly complete.


We have the three latest 7/8ths release from Short Staff available, all priced at £18.50 and supplied unpainted these are :-



Station Master


Upcoming 7/8ths products


We have just completed the first two shows of the season with the 16mm AGM

I have been struck with the amount of new 7/8th product being made available from a variety of manufacturers.

This is, in my opinion, a good and healthy thing for our chosen scale, the more choice available to potential converts the greater the attraction for what 7/8ths offers.

An upswing in interest will serve all manufacturers well, and hopefully lead to yet more products becoming available. I applaud all those who have committed time and resource, to developing 7/8ths products, I wish all of them well, and hope that they enjoy success in the fruits of their labours.

To showcase just some of the items seen recently :-

Bole Laser Craft

Offering a selection of rolling stock kits, which feature some of the nicest 3D printed details I have seen. Their Leek and Manifold station building is also noteworthy

Bole laser Sand HuttonL&M waiting room



Some preproduction images of the Dinorwic Royal coach to be released soon, we were glad to be able to offer some modest assistance in this project. Matt has done a fine job with the laser work on this, and such a cute prototype!

FB_IMG_1554591364449Royal Coach


North Pilton works

NPW have been producing a good range in 7/8ths, both buildings and infrastructure as well as rolling stock. Steph H and I were looking over some of their upcoming releases, we were particularly taken with their upcoming kitchen coach. It will come with a load of details, but imagine them augmented with a selection of Dolls house kitchen items, cutlery, crockery, glassware etc. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

We also came up with some ideas for converting the bogie Brake van into a works diesel, as you do, details to follow.

NPW SelectionNPW Kitchen carNPW bogie brake

IP Engineering

After talking with Ivan, ModelEarth will be offering the recent releases of IP matchboard coaches.

This will make stock available from the largest 7/8ths supplier and allow IP to concentrate on their core 16mm business.

Following on from our previous success with the panelled coaches we will be offering these as a wood pack without castings for £50.00

There are a number of options for wheels, axle boxes and couplers. As soon as I can I will put up some information on my blog.

IP Coaches

Accucraft UK

We have been fortunate with Accucraft offering a selection of 7/8ths live steam locos, the next release, a Kerr Stuart Wren is eagerly awaited.



Just a small selection of the range of 7/8ths product becoming available, happy times.