A cheap DIY model paint shaker

I bought an 12V vibration motor from China off of eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/291580254219), originally to see if it could help tamp down the loose ballast on my layout modules before fixing with glue.
The motor, even on a 9V battery, vibrated the board so much that all the ballast soon was one stone thick in a layer several inches wide!
Well at £3.97 inclusive of postage it was not a big loss.

Then today I wondered if it could help me mix paint! I wanted to thin down some tube acrylic paint for use in my airbrush.
I mixed the paint 50/50 with thinners in a disposable plastic bottle and fastened it to the vibrator with an elastic band.


Result? A nice creamy paint mix!

My modelling workshop

I have finally completed the construction and fitting of my new, and in fact first, dedicated modelling workshop.

7ft x 5ft was the maximum size allowed by SWMBO in our small back garden. I have to admit though that I nearly became a widower when, having spent about £1800 buying it, insulating it, cladding it, fitting it out, electrics etc., SWMBO then said, “You should have bought a bigger shed!”. I still love her …

The workshop is made of 19mm tanilised timber to prevent rot in the damp Peak District climate. The workshop was insulated using aluminium backed fabric then 40mm Kingspan foam insulation board before the interior was clad using 8mm tongue-and-groove boards and varnished. The floor was covered in a 3mm rubber safety flooring laid over the aluminium backed fabric with 3mm plywood on top to provide a smooth surface for the rubber. The workshop is so well insulated that the 50 watts of lighting and my body heat alone raises the temperature by 3 deg C an hour, even on 5 deg C outside temperature, high wind and rainy day!

Because of the restricted space everything had to be compact. So here is the workshop.

My 12 inch radius 9mm test track hangs onto the back of the door when not in use.

The 600mm deep end wall workbench is fixed whilst the 500mm deep 800mm wide workbench under the window is fitted onto caravan folding table brackets so that it can be folded down when more space is required. The test track fits onto this worktop when required.

Soldering equipment is taken care of by soldering rework station allowing use of either hot air or the iron for soldering and plenty of shelf space as well as the use of Ikea Helmer steel drawer units and a wheeled work trolley will help me keep things tidy. Items like spirit levels, squares, Dyson etc and rules are all wall-mounted

All the lighting is provided by two daylight LED panels and a 100w equivalent daylight LED bulb in the Anglepoise. The windows have been double-glazed using 4mm Lexan sheet with mirror film on them to control the solar gain, provide a constant colour temperature when paint matching and keep the interior private. A thermostat controlled oil-filled radiater keeps the workshop at 12 dec C when the workshop is not in use so as to minimise damp and a solar-powered ventilator in the door provides a low level of ventilation during daylight.

The workshop electrics are RCD protected and a 2kg CO2 fire extinguisher is fitted for emergencies. A Dyson DC35 vacuum cleaner is used to keep it clean.

Update – 009 shunter using Farish Class 14 chassis and Knightwing 0-4-0 diesel kit

Just a quick update. The Knightwing shunter has now received windows, handrails and nameplates by Narrow Planet. I named and numbered the loco in memory of my father who was born in ’23 and received the D.F.M. from King George VI on the morning of V.E. Day’ May 8th 1946. He died 20 years ago and I miss him every day.

The loco has been ‘dirtied’ using my first use of Games Workshop Citadel paints. The dirt is a wash using “Nuln Oil” and the rusty exhaust used a base-coat of “Typhus Corrosion” then a dry-brushing of “Ryza Rust” followed by a top coat of of “Typhus Corrosion”. Where do they get those names from!

Overall I am pleased with the Games Workshop paints and will explore using more of them in the future.

Now I just need to sort out the Led lights and glue the cab roof on when it is all wired up.

009 shunter using Graham Farish Class 14 chassis and Knightwing 0-4-0 shunter kit

Now here is a short video showing how well the Farish Class 14 chassis runs in this model. A scale minimum speed of < 1.4 mph and a scale maximum of 24 mph set on the Digitrax DZ125 DCC decoder.

Kühn 81340 direct replacement for Roco 10735 90 degree decoder

Having bought one, I can now confirm that the Kühn 81340 – Decoder N025-P, 90 degree, 0.7A, NEM651 chip is a direct replacement for the Roco 10735 decoder used on their H0e Hf110c and Mh6 locos. Nice, smooth running and a top prototype speed of 25mph on my Hf110c loco straight out of the box.

Bachmann 35-556RA decoders do not fit Roco Hf110c or Mh6 H0e locos

I have been trying to obtain  Roco 10735 DCC decoders, the ones with the 90 degree pins, to fit into my Roco Hf110c and Mh6 locos.


Having had a great deal of difficulty in obtaining them, they appear to be out of production, I thought that the Bachmann 36-556RA E-Z Command 90 Degrees 6 Pin DCC Decoder would do for now.  It was a little larger that the Roco decoder but it fitted nicely into the locos. The only problem is they do not work!

Bachmann 34-556RA dcc decoder

Having bought two Bachmann decoders I then find out that Roco have reversed the pinouts on their locos so that only their decoders face the right way to allow the cab or tender bodies to fit! Either that or Bachmann are the culprits!  Whoever was responsible is immaterial as it means that you cannot use the Bachmann chips in Roco H0e locos.

Roco do not mark the number 1 pin on their loco sockets or chips so you find this out the hard way when you cannot program the chip and the loco does not respond. It was only by using my ESU DCC decoder Tester that I was able to verify this by comparison with a Roco chip without burning out the Bachmann chips. This device is worth its weight in gold as it allows you to test, program and diagnose problems with almost any make and model of DCC decoder, both normal and those fitted with sound.

ESU Decoder Tester 3

It may be possible to remove the connector from the Bachmann units and re-solder it onto the other side of the board to make it fit. This is not something I will try myself as my eyesight is now just too poor to attempt working on such a small component!

I shall therefore have to look for an NEM651 compatible 6 pin chip which has leads long enough to carefully bend to 90 degrees to fit my Roco locos.

Atlas Editions autorail to H0e conversion – PLM ZZr 50

PLM ZZr 50

I came across a Chinese vendor on eBay selling 1:87 H0 Atlas Editions French Autorail models at a reasonable price (£15-£20 inclusive of postage). Several of these autorails were for metre gauge lines or short wheelbase standard gauge units.

Having bought one to see what it was like I was hooked and now have half a dozen different models!

I decided that I would attempt to motorise these units as though they had been purchased to run on 70cm narrow gauge as H0e models.

My first model to be completed is the PLM ZZr 50 which was a standard gauge unit before the ‘butchery’ took place.

Atlas editions PLM ZZr 50 autorail

The body is easily disassembled as it is held together with screws.

Disassembled PLM ZZr 50 autorail model

This unit was a twin axle prototype but I have chosen to make it as a bo-bo unit using a Tomytec TM-10 16m chassis obtained from Deputi Japan via Amazon for £18.50 inclusive of postage. Currently this chassis seems to be in short supply and Amazon are listing it at £62.11! A ridiculous price in my opinion!

The original metal chassis of the autorail was severely ‘Dremelled’ to permit the Tomytec unit to fit above the chassis plate as fitting it below made the model appear too tall for a narrow gauge vehicle in my opinion.

Metal baseplate cutout for Tomyrec TM10 chassis

Baseplate with fitted Tomytec TM-10 chassis

Fitting the motor unit above the chassis plate meant that the original interior could not be easily refitted and so I decided to make and fit a dummy interior made out of Slater’s Plastikard which fits just below the window line. This leaves sufficient room to easily fit a DCC decoder.

New interior floor

New interior

The body was refitted to the chassis by gluing two ‘L’ shaped ABS brackets at either end and then tapping them for 2mm screws. A Greenwich coupler was modified using a solder tag so that it could be fitted using the rear body securing screw.

Chassis mouting brackets

The chassis was primed using Halfords grey primer and then it and the Tomytec unit were painted in ‘red lead’ using Vallejo acrylic paints. A Greenwich coupler was modified using a solder tag so that it could be fitted using the rear body securing screw.

Painted and installed Tomytec TM-10 chassis

Completed PLM ZZR 50 conversion displayed on a Peco n-gauge turntable

The model runs well at slow speed and can tow 2-3 coaches if required. I have now bought several more Tomytec motor units in a selection of sizes, (16, 17 & 20m) to motorise my other Atlas edition models and also a couple of Bullant drives and trailing bogies for use on the autorails too long for the Tomytec units.

So there you have my first autorail conversion. I am finally on my way to re-discovering H0e modelling again. It’s a small start for me but at least the ‘missus’ can see some return for the £1000’s I have invested in my retirement hobby this last 12 months!

Regauging Bemo 12mm HOm locos to 9mm H0e

After advice from members on several forums I managed to re-gauge theBemo 1260/1 Loco No. 81 ‘Wallis’ electric tunnel loco from 12mmH0m to 9mmH0e gauge. I thought therefore, as this information appears to be a well-hidden ‘secret’ that I would post how I did it.

1: To remove the bogie cover plates to expose the wheel-sets turn the loco upside down and insert a small screwdriver into the slot at the outer end of each bogie between the metal peg and the cover-plate, apply a small amount of downward pressure to the screwdriver and lever back towards the centre of the bogie whilst exerting gentle upward pressure on the cover-plate. The cover-plate should ‘pop’ off its locating catch. Repeat this for the other end of the bogie and the cover-plate should come away.
Dismantling the Bemo Wallis bogie

2. Remove the wheel-sets making sure that you note which way they fit in the bogie and that you note which axles have traction tyres and on which side of the loco they fit.


3. You then need to make a press tool. As I was re-gauging from 12mm to 9mm I needed to bring each wheel in on its axle by 1.5mm. This is 0.0590551181102362″ Or as makes no difference 59 thousandths of an inch.

I therefore cemented 2 layers of 30 thou plasticard together using solvent (not cement) and drilled a 3mm diameter hole through them both when they had been stuck together. I then used my digital vernier callipers to check the combined thickness and this fortuitously came to 0.059″ i.e. 1.5mm exactly.

Sticking on a backing piece now gave me a hole with a known depth of 1.5mm.

The next stage is to re-gauge the wheel-set4. Using one of my 90mm Hatakane brass bar cramps I could place the re-gauging tool over the outside of one of the wheels so that the axle pin could slide into the re-gauging tool I had just made. A gentle turn of the cramps screw was sufficient to move the wheel in on the axle by no more that 1.5mm.

The wheel-set was then removed and the operation repeated on the other side. The back to back measurement of 7.25mm was then checked using the digital vernier calipers and final sizing could then be done by tightening the cramp screw a little more if required.

The wheel-sets were then ready to be replaced in the bogies.

This is a ‘before’ and after’ shot of the wheel-sets.

5. The wheel-sets can then be returned to the bogies. Care must be taken to ensure that the electrical pickups are correctly running on the rear face of each wheel before the cover-plates are gently snapped back into place.


This picture shows one bogie after re-gauging and the other awaiting its turn.


Kitwood Hills 90mm 009/H0e motorised model turntable

Kitwood Hills Model 009 90mm turntableA new purchase is this Kitwood Hills motorised model turntable. This is the 90mm diameter version, a 65mm being another option. The kit comes with a presoldered 9mm track section which now uses Code 80 rather than the Code 70 currently stated on their website.

The kit is complete with switches for both the turntable motor and also polarity change for the turntable, battery box etc. The motor runs on either 1.5 or 3 volt DC but caan be converted to run on DCC if a loco decoder is used and a 33Ω  (33R) resistor is placed in the motor circuit to prevent a burnout if full speed on the decoder is accidentally set.

The kit is made out of laser cut parts with spring loaded plungers and a custom PCB board to transfer current to the table’s track.

I shall be writing more as I build it in a few weeks, after a vacation and the the commissioning of a new garden workshop for my model making activities.



Laser cut scenic baseboards by Tim Horn

I recently bought two laser cut MDF scenic baseboard kits from Tim Horn (http://www.timhorn.co.uk/scenic-boards). They are each 400x250mm in size with 50mm sides and made of 3mm MDF and cost me £8.00 each + £4.00 postage.

Delivery was quick and the boards were well packed with comprehensive instructions. The finish of the parts was excellent.


Laser cut MDF baseboard 400 x 250 mm


I mention on a thread on this board  that it would be nice if there was an option for the ends to be produced to fit pattern maker’s dowels like those provided by Station Road Baseboards as, for those of us not having a workshop, accurately cutting pockets for the dowels could be a problem


To my great surprise, the other day a parcel arrived from Tim with a replacement set of end pieces for my two boards cut to fit the pattern maker’s dowels. Tim also told me that they were free of charge!  I cannot thank Tim enough for his generosity and customer service, it made my day!



I therefore set to assemble the baseboards using the set of pattern maker’s dowels I had bought and Tim’s new end pieces. Total assembly time per board was less that 15 minutes as they went together so easily, the laser cut ‘dovetails’ fitting together crisply and tightly on all the pieces. The pattern maker’s dowels are a snug fit in the end pieces and locate the boards perfectly together.




Laser cut MDF baseboard 400 x 250 mm



Laser cut MDF baseboard 400 x 250 mm


Because using brass pattern maker’s dowels actually cost more that the board Tim also provided in the added parts laser-cut 25mm diameter 6mm thick MDF plugs that can be used instead of the brass dowels. These are a tight fit in the precut board ends and may be a convenient option for some. I will probably stick to using the brass dowels because I am unsure as to how the MDF plugs will stand up to repeated rejoining of the boards. My primary concern for portable exhibition boards is that they might swell and jam boards together if the board should be subjected to a damp atmosphere. I must state that this is pure conjecture on my part and I will be very happy to have my theory overturned by others.

I did try out the MDF dowels (without gluing them in place) and they aligned the boards perfectly. For joining fixed boards together I think they will be an excellent alternative to using the brass pattern maker’s dowels.



Laser cut MDF baseboard 400 x 250 mm



Overall my impression of these boards is excellent and I am looking forward to using them as bases for developing my modelling skills over the next few months.



I have had correspondence with Tim and found him most receptive to ideas on possible new or modified products. I wish him every success in this venture.



The usual disclaimer : I have no connection with Tim Horn or his business other than as a very satisfied customer.

Converting the Knightwing 0-4-0 kit to fit the Graham Farish Class 14 chassis

Now it was time to tackle the body modifications required to fit the 00-gauge Knightwing diesel locomotive body to the Graham Farish Class 14 n-gauge diesel chassis.

The first job was to plate over the existing hole in the chassis plate using plasticard stuck to the bottom of the plate. This would give me flat surface to mount the GF chassis to.

Knightwing body kit

Knightwing body kit (from the top)

This was done before any parts were cut so that it was easier then to cut the Knightwing chassis to length and width – ‘cut-and-shutting’ out 8mm in the middle to shorten it to the right length before cutting out the new chassis mounting hole. I also shortened the back and sides of the chassis plate to minimise overhang.

Chassis cuts

The bonnet sides and bonnet hood were then shortened to fit. The cut for the bonnet sides being just outside the small plain access door at the loco front.

Body panel cuts

Once the chassis mounting hole had been cut, and tested the front of the cab modified to fit around the motor then the cab and bonnet was assembled. I have left, for now, the bonnet hood as a press fit until final assembly after painting.

The insides of the bonnet sides were lined with lead plates for added weight.

Assembled body

The loco was then readied for a test run

Ready for a test run