BLOG: Project O update


I’ve been spreading my modelling activities between a trio of projects lately. Regular readers will have seen the Staff Projects in HM143 (May 2019) showed a little glimpse of my outdoor ‘O’ gauge project while the latest issue (HM144, June 2019) shows a small section of recent progress on the ‘OO’ gauge test track Topley Dale.

However, what I haven’t had chance to update you on until now are a handful of changes on the ‘O’ gauge test track – and one which I’m really quite pleased with. If you have followed the building of the ‘O’ gauge test track over the past two-years in Hornby Magazine’s Staff Projects you will probably have noticed the development of a retaining wall behind the junction and the inclusion of a road bridge as the scenic break. These are all laser cut wood products – the bridge coming from KS Laser Designs while the retaining wall sections are from Intentio. Both looked great, even in bare wood, but there was an issue with the difference in height between the bridge and the wall sections which jarred to the eye.

Heljan ‘Warship’ D869 Zest passes in front of the newly installed sloping wall sections. These were made specifically for the ‘O’ gauge test track by laser cutting specialist Intentio.

I have long planned on commissioning a set of bespoke wall sections with sloping tops to blend the bridge and wall sections together and I finally got round to giving the dimensions to Phil at Intentio. The new panels, after checking drawings by Phil to my specification, were delivered a few weeks later ready to be assembled to fit the layout.

The result is exactly as I had planned and hoped. This matches the style of the main retaining wall length which now runs the full 12ft length of the scenic area on that side of the ‘O’ gauge layout and provides a neat backdrop. Now I just need to pull my finger out and get painting them so that they really look the part. I also need to build the Intentio GWR ARP style signalbox which is currently loose assembled to test the fit of the parts and standing guard over train movements at the junction.

A Heljan Class 33 leads the new rake of Class B tankers, the United Molasses brown wagons await repainting while the black wagons are one stage ahead and await transfers. The full rake is 12 vehicles.

On the rolling stock front I’ve been working on a number of projects including repainting of a rake of Heljan Class B tankers into Esso black, construction of a Parkside Models GWR ‘MOGO’ van, a Peco Wonderful Wagons 16ton mineral wagon (which reminded me that I don’t get on particularly well with pressfix transfers) and I’ve also completed construction and painting of a Slater’s SR PMV van too.

Recently completed is this Parkside Models ‘MOGO’ van which is ready for paint while the Slater’s PMV van is now waiting for transfers and weathering.

Also new to the wagon fleet is this Peco 16ton mineral wagon which included opening door and sprung axle boxes.

In other exciting news, after two years of intention I’ve finally got round to repairing the windows on my Heljan Mk 1s some of which had come loose. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, as the roofs just unclip from the body shell. The tricky part is lifting the metal conduit rods from the roof first, but fortunately this is quite straightforward as the plastic lugs are push fitted into the roof without glue and the conduits aren’t glued into their mounts either. However, if you do need get into your Heljan ‘O’ gauge Mk 1s don’t remove the metal rods from the supports on the carriage ends – that leads to complications and makes them difficult to put back together.

All the windows have been refitted to the Mk 1 rake.

As you can see there has been plenty of activity on the ‘O’ gauge test track as well as Topley Dale and soon I’ll be showing what I’ve been building in the garden in a future issue of the magazine.

To get your copy of the latest issue visit the Key Publishing Shop or your local newsagent. Alternatively, you can download a digital edition from – simply search ‘Hornby Magazine’.

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