- An Explosive Scratch-build -

by Daniel Thomas

I'm currently building a layout along with my dad which is set in a fictional South Wales colliery and is basically a transfer between the narrow gauge (009) and standard gauge (00 gauge). I've already got a small collection of 009 models from the likes of peco and roco but to suit the colliery theme, I needed more specialist wagons such as a gunpowder wagon. Wanting to try new skills, I decided to have a go at scratch building it using plasticard sheet, microstrip, brass strip and wire and a peco n gauge wagon chassis that has been cut and shut. The end result is in the two pictures below. It is mainly a freelance model but is based on a design from the Talyllyn railway.

I started preparing the model by first adding an undercoat of halfords grey primer. After that, I then filled out some areas using perfect plastic putty from Deluxe Materials. Once that was dry, I started painting the model in a red colour scheme with a brack underframe and a dark grey roof. The finer details such as the door hinges, handles and roof bracing are picked out in black using a a very small paint brush which was a really fiddly process! The next job now is to add lettering on both sides of the van, weathering and finally a coat of matt varnish. Its amazing to see how a model develops over time.

While typically you would use transfers, I haven't got any experience in using them yet and also the lettering on wagons in colliery systems was often less than perfect. To recreate that scrawled and painted on look, I've used a staedtler mars matic 700 0.25mm drafting pen with white ink ( my dad used to use these types of pens when he was a student before the days of auto cad.) Even if it demanded precision, I think I have done it okay so far and have only got to do the other end now. The final part after this is the weathering and varnishing.

For the weathering, I didn't go all out on the rust because in real life, gunpowder vans probably had to be kept in good condition to a certain degree so that they could be safe enough to carry the explosives. As a result the only bit of rust is on the underframe which is rust paint that has been lightly dry-brushed. The majority of the weathering on the model is coal dust build up which I have done by using humbrol matt black acryilic paint that has been diluted down using acryilic thinners to form a wash. It was then flowed into the recesses of the bracing. Also, I have added some streaking effects to the roof indicating rainwater run off. Finally, once all this was dry, the model was sprayed with two coats of humbrol matt varnish. While this does mean that the model is now resistent to handling, it also creates an odd effect of the underframes 'whitening'-am I doing something wrong or what? Overall, I'm quite pleased with the explosives van with the only thing needed now are the couplings which are going to be greenwich. It's not perfect but then again, it's my first effort in scratch and kit building so there is plenty of time to improve on my skills. It also has inspired me to do more scratch-building in the future such as 009 cable wagons and even a steam locomotive!