Monday 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Above is an old Agfa CT18 slide of dropping off water churns at Catcott Crossing taken around 1962. It's going to be quite a job to restore this one to clear away the mould and scratches. The lens on the original camera was not that great either, with quite a bit of astigmatism at the edges of the field. Luckily though the photographer had his twin lens Rollei and grabbed a decent B&W shot here.

Well that was 2012, and quite a busy year it's been with another layout making its debut in the form of Polbrock, and then there's been all the magazine photography which has taken me up, down and across the country to play with and photograph other people's cracking and lovely layouts for Model Rail magazine.

2013 promises to be equally busy with the diary already full almost through to the summer on the layout photography front. I also have to extend Polbrock by 100% to incorporate a colliery - the deadline with that being Railex at the end of May so I need to think about cracking ahead! I also have some features to write too covering various railway modelling subjects. Luckily I have wound down my television work to a minimum to incorporate all this extra toy train stuff.

In the mean time, let me wish you a fabulous, exciting and prosperous new year!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Water Delivery

nevard_121229_catcott_IMG_2378 by nevardmedia
nevard_121229_catcott_IMG_2378, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Click on the above photo for a bigger version with extra notes about the modelling!
The photo above is a reminder of hot summer days for those of us in the northern hemisphere, with this photo depicting the regular fresh water delivery for the crossing keeper and her family.

Many rural outposts on our railways before Mr Beeching killed most of them off were remote from electricity and even mains water. Catcott, a small crossing, half a mile of so east of Edington Burtle in the middle of the Somerset Levels was just one of these spots, the remote keepers cottage not having water on tap, although the swan necked lamp seen just above the car would suggest there was electricity!

To get around the water issue, drinking water would be delivered as required in a milk churn, it frequently being carried on the footplate of a passing loco or train and dropped off. Exchange of a quick cuppa or some vegetables from the obligatory crossing keeper's allotment could also be known to ensure a supply of coal too - though that was strictly unofficial!

The engine here, an ex-GWR Pannier Tank number 4631 was one of the few allocated to the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway route as a result of the Western Region takeover. By the early 1960's these small but powerful locos could often be seen sharing Highbridge branch duties with Ivatt Class 2 tanks and ex-GWR Collett 0-6-0 tender locos which had replaced the old ex-Midland 3F 0-6-0 and Midland 0-4-4 1P tanks which had operated the line for many years.

The old Austin which appears to be devoid of a number plate is probably illegal, even when this photo was taken around 1963 it would have been the best part of 30 years old and probably none too roadworthy!

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

31272 & 31230 power a coal train through Finsbury Park. January 1987. Rolliecord, Ektachrome 100.
Enjoy your day where-ever you are, and if you're a toy train fan I hope that Santa bought you lots of toys. Enjoy!

Chris Nevard

Sunday 23 December 2012

Cement Quay gets packed up for Xmas

nevard_121221_CQ_IMG_2143 by nevardmedia
nevard_121221_CQ_IMG_2143, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
The photographer's 1956 MG Magnette ZB in 'duo-tone' takes pride of place in front of Hymek No. D7013 on Cement Quay.

Due to the Christmas festivities, my 'playroom' is sadly needed to sleep guests so this will be the last shot on Cement Quay for a bit. I set it up in September for a 'day or two', but somehow or other 3 months on and it's still sat there! Still, it's given me a chance to mess about with it and see what it looks like with steam loco and early diesels in preparation for its next outing which is likely to be Model Rail Live as and when that happens.

On the note of early diesels, the Hymek is a 40 year old Triang Hornby one, which around a decade of so I rewheeled with Ultrascales and reworked and repainted the body. I also took the opportunity to lower it by a couple of millimeters too, which I think improves it's look.

Insert a shim to lower the motor bogie. The one on the other end, just file the base away a similar amount.
The newer Heljan offering of this loco is of course better in many ways, but if this re-worked Triang loco from the early 1970's if on its own it still looks the part I think. And curiously the 40 year old 3 pole motor still runs a dream, it working very well indeed with a Gaugemaster Feedback controller, allowing slow crawling speeds you'd tend to expect with modern ready to run with all their flywheels and other clever bits.

The MG Magnette ZB (Oxford Diecast) in 'duotone' was one of those rash purchases down the local Model Zone -  a snip at a mere £2.99 - less than a pint around these parts! It's has a little dusting of Tamiya Matt to kill the shine.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Loco Focus: Modified Hornby 'Evening Star'

nevard_121220_CQ_IMG_2131 by nevardmedia
nevard_121220_CQ_IMG_2131, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
Looking perfectly at home on Cement Quay, a chopped about, repainted, renumbered and weathered Hornby 'Evening Star', now masquerading as 92224.

Around 10 years the modified engine which involved replacing all the moulded hand rails was treated to a Modelyard loco-drive chassis. The more recent 9F releases from Bachmann and Hornby Railroad have made such conversions redundant and whilst Modelyard no longer do this conversion, I'm pleased to see that they have evolved to suit present day model railway fan's requirements -

An area I will look at is the airbrush weathering, things in this area have moved on in recent times with heightened skills and techniques acquired over the last decade or so since I acquired and modified this engine.

Model Rail Feb 2013 (178)

Model Rail Feb 2013 (178)

With 13 issues a year the months start to get a little out of kilter around this year, so the issue after this one will be called 'Spring' I gather. Anyway, that's a minor issue when you get an extra magazine each year because it's every 4 weeks rather than monthly.

All the Hornby 2013 news and the background to what's happening - and a round-up of new items announced or launched at Warley.

Check out our latest limited editions and place a pre-order, plus there's a new batch of four Sentinels coming in 2013 - find out which new liveries we've chosen.

Reviews include the Hornby 'B17' 4-6-0 and 'O1' 2-8-0 - probably the first time we've had two new Hornby locos in a month.

Also the lovely Bachmann 'C' class 0-6-0, the LMS Compound 4-4-0 and the Graham Farish 'N' Blue Pullman and the Dapol 'N' Class 27. In fact 
SEVENTEEN pages of reviews!

Horseley Fields - modern image 'N' gauge (photography by Chris Nevard)
Brinkley 'P4' LMS/BR MR (photography by Chris Nevard)
Brucklay 'EM' green diesel era.

Masterplan: The final installment of Paul Lunn's 6x4 designs, and something VERY different.

Masking models
DRS Class 37/6
LMS 40ton coal hoppers
Baseboards without wood

All the regulars including Q&A, Exhibition Diary and Backscene.

Chris Leigh
To order a sub visit 

Wednesday 19 December 2012

O1 for London

Stratford (East London) shed's Thompson O1 No. 63650 has been spotted on Cement Quay between duties a somewhat long way from 'The Smoke', but as somebody recently commented on one of the toy chuffer forums 'these locos had rubbish brakes' so that could be the reason why it was spotted here right down in Gloucestershire - it over ran a bit!

The joy of an industrial layout like this is that it could be almost anywhere, which is a great excuse to run whatever pleases, which is great because my current interest loco-wise is in big 8 coupled goods locos!

Catalogue dribblers will know that 63650 with 'early crest' is not one of the options for this new release, that's because yesterday afternoon I decided to repaint, renumber and weather up a LNER liveried one I had in my possession. Looking for colour prototype photos, the excellent 'Steam in England' featuring photographs by the great R.C. Riley came up trumps with a nice photo of this hardy Eastender captured on Stratford shed sometime in the elate 1950's.

Converted from an O4 in 1945, this sturdy engine lasted right through to the classes final year in 1965, and I've tried to depict the engine much as it would have been between exams, not a complete wreck, but as a machine that's seen a bit of use.

The favoured way these days to weather up engines and rolling stock is to use an airbrush, but despite owning a couple of these useful tools (in the right hands), these days I like to weather just using brush techniques. One reason is because being lazy by nature I hate cleaning airbrushes, and the other because I'm more confident with a brush in my hand along with a good period colour photo to copy for inspiration.

The brush technique will form a Workbench feature in a future Model Rail, I've taken the step by step photos but now need to put a few words together which will hopefully make some kind of sense. In the meantime, if you want a closer look at the above photo, click on it for other viewing size options. And before some sniffy type comments, yes I know it needs a crew, coal and lamps. 

Friday 14 December 2012

Friday Photo

nevard_121213_Q1_IMG_1984 by nevardmedia
nevard_121213_Q1_IMG_1984, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
With a gale blowing outside confirming that it really is winter, here's a rose tinted view of railways as they were - well, in our memories anyway!

Bulleid 'Coffeepot' Q1 Class No. 33019 with a Redhill to Reading service storms past an ex-GWR pannier tank in the summer of '62 taken on my loco train photothingy. I really must add some fishplates to the track sometime!

Thursday 13 December 2012

Into the Sunset

nevard_121212_Q1_IMG_1961 by nevardmedia
nevard_121212_Q1_IMG_1961, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
In the last rays of sunlight during the autumn of 1963, Guildford Shed's 'Cofferpot' No. 33019 briefly lets off a good clag as it heads west after a water stop at Basingstoke.

Those who follow me on Facebook will have seen this photo, I find it like with this blog a useful tool to show off photos, especially now that the new Facebook layout allows much bigger less compressed photos to be displayed.

This photo seeing I don't have a time machine is one of my frequent lash ups in the studio using the customised Hornby Q1 I discussed in my last blog post earlier in the week. The photo took about 5 minutes to set up and shoot, just using a single light source off to the left with the angle allowing light to reflect off the loco straight into the lens. The sky and smoke; I have to confess to using  Photoshop to laminate an early morning West London summer sky and smoke from a full sized GWR Pannier tank taken on some photo-charter a few years ago.

Purists would of course take their model outside in the correct weather and photograph it against the sky 'live', they'd then hide behind the loco smoking a cigar puffing smoke upwards. But no, it's too cold and I don't smoke, so prefer this method especially for this time of year!

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Bulleid's Austerity

nevard121212_Q1_IMG_1957 by nevardmedia
nevard121212_Q1_IMG_1957, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
This Hornby Bulleid Q1 has been renumbered as Guildford Shed's least glamourous No. 33019 and is midway through my non-airbrush weathering.

I used to airbrush weather all the time, but now favour pigment washes and drybrushing, these giving me giving far more control and a slightly more random effect like the real thing.

In time the upper surfaces will receive a little matt varnish misted on from above to suggest fallen ash (Testors Dullcote from an aerosol), otherwise I favour the slight sheen of a working engine, remembering clambering around mucky working engines in Poland in the very early 1990's. Working steam has more of a warm smeared sticky Christmas Pudding look than pure Barry Island rust often portrayed.

I tend to weather in stages, splitting into different sessions over a few days rather than all in one go, I can them appraise the result in different light including that of the layouts it will be running on. It also allows the paints to set well between sessions.  

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Airfix 15-ton Diesel Hydraulic Crane

Click to enlarge

I was having a tidy up earlier putting wagons and locos away that were littering the spare room and can across this old  Airfix 15-ton Diesel Hydraulic Crane.

Click to enlarge

It formed part of a huge second hand job lot I bought when getting back into the hobby a decade or so ago, and was built by its previous owner from a kit originally dating from 1962.

In more recent times this useful and fully working model (part from moving under its own power) was produced by Dapol, so those who fancy one will stand a good chance of finding one for the price of a couple of pints on Ebay or one of the tat stores that spring up at smaller railway shows.

I must say that I think it looks spot on here, the posed scene here depicting a steel girder load that needs unloading onto the quayside for some heavy construction work no doubt.

Monday 3 December 2012

Black & White

Brewhouse Quay; the strong graphic quality means
that colour would add little if anything. Red and yellow
channels were lightened a little during B&W
conversion to add mid tone contrast to replicate how
B&W film would record such a scene.

If you look on model railway internet forums it's common to see dull flat photos of toy chuffers in black and white. Apparently to many forum-flies, many layouts and modelling 'look more realistic', but hits on my website when I publish both colour and B&W of the same photo would tend to suggest that colour always wins on the 'hit' front by around 2 to 1.

I think much of the time why modellers prefer B&W to colour is because their white balance is so far out, so converting that shot to monochrome gets around that issue. We've all done it I'm sure, especially if trying to shoot something at a show with all the mixed lighting casting different colours on everything, or if you're a bloke, simply not reading those new camera instructions to work out how to set the white balance!

Tip: shoot RAW and write your white balance later at home if your camera allows!

Very occasionally I do get that shot which gets more B&W hits than colour, this is probably something to do with the lighting and composition. Those shots tend to have a strong graphic quality, any colour adding little or no value. Luckily these lazy days we can make that choice in the virtual darkroom at a later stage. But if shooting a B&W shot specifically, it's always good to 'see' in B&W at the taking stage, concentrating on those aspects that make a B&W shot work by ignoring the colour aspect. Google Colin Gifford or Bill Brandt and you'll see what I mean.

Tide out at Le Touquet - originally a colour shot, but the
blue channels darkened and yellow channels lightened during
B&W conversion to replicate the effect of B&W film shot
through a red filter. CLICK TO ENLARGE!
Many think that turning a digital colour photo into B&W is simply a matter of converting the image to 'greyscale'; of course you do get a B&W image, but it will often look muddy, lack contrast and the tone separation between what were originally the coloured areas like duotone carriage liveries (especially 'blood and custard'). This is because B&W film, even though it is monochrome does see colour and records it differently to a simple grey scale conversion. In the days of B&W film, photographers would exploit this aspect further by adding coloured filters to their camera lenses to produce differing effects.

The most popular filter was yellow, the yellow filter brightening yellows and green in a landscape (or the yellow end to a loco) and darkening the blues, great for a summer days when wanting to separate the fluffy white clouds from the blue sky. For more extreme effects orange or even red filters could be used, red in particular darkening the blue sky to almost black and lightening the yellow/red end of the spectrum to make these colours appear white in monochrome. For railway photographers this could give the most most bazaar effect to a BR Blue loco on a sunny summer day!
A Midland 3F on Catcott Burtle, originally in colour, as before
the  yellow and red channels were lightened a tad and the
 blue channel darkened a bit at the B&W conversion
 stage. The effect is similar to what you'd get shooting outside
 on a summer's day with a yellow filter on the camera lens
when using B&W film. A simple grey scale conversion of the
 colour photo would be lacking in contrast in the grass and
 sky, yellows and reds in particular becoming far too dark and 

muddy during a straight greyscale conversion.
In the wacky world of digital, you can do much of the above with your editing software by adjusting the colour intensities when B&W converting. I'm not going to tell you how here, but have a quick Google on the subject and try for yourself, you'll never be satisfied with a simple grey scale conversion ever again and may even get that rare shot that's more popular in B&W than colour.

To celebrate B&W in miniature, I have created a Flickr collection of some of my favourite B&W shots - they can be found here.

Photo for Monday

Monday is often a miserable day for those in the 9-5 rat race, so hopefully this photo of my 30 year old LMS 4F will add a little cheer to the gloom. But listening to the news as I type type would suggest that today will be the busiest day for internet shopping - so hopefully you've put that order in for the rolling stock or book you need for that latest project.

The above photo was taken at around 05.40 (don't ask) this morning, I have the photographic lights set up around Cement Quay currently so it was just a matter of turning them on and popping the Box Brownie onto a small bean bag to grab this view as if one was afloat on the water without a paddle.