LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

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LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby rogerabbit » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:48 pm

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This was inspired by a purchase I made on a well known auction site. I was looking for some Hornby LNER coaches. A lady had bought a bunch of them at a boot sale. She listed them as follows -

" Six gold plastic railway coaches "

And of course she was spot on! A while later Hornby brought out their present range - at around £50 a whack - which is what I'd hope to pay for a good second hand loco. So I got to thinking how I might improve these - couldn't make them worse.

The main problem was the lettering. I didn't want to spend out a load of time and money on transfers - but how to paint them without wiping out the logo and numbers? And what paint to use? I had bought an excellent set of Lifecolour acrylic wood effect paints - for use on wood and plastic. I have pictured the set because it's not widely known - also a windmill I made using it - which is basically a card kit with coffee stirrers applied to it, then various shades from the Lifecolour set used to make it look weathered. It's a fantastic purchase because it has so many uses. But I digress. I dismantled one of the Gresley coaches and experimented.

I applied a really thin coat of the WARM LIGHT SHADE from the set to see what would happen. I was surprised. The 'plastic' look vanished, the colour tone darkened but the lettering was still clear. If anything it took on a richer gold - like pictures of restored LNER coaches I found online for colour matching. So I painted on. Bad painting was essential! The more horizontal brushstokes visible the better the woodgrain effect. And as the paint began to dry, I returned with a dryish brush to clear the lettering a little and improve the woodgrain effect.

Already a significant improvement - next to achieve the high varnish effect. I thinned down Humbrol 35 gloss varnish and applied several coats. The more I applied, the richer the wood effect became. Important to thin it - very clumpy if you don't.

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The Thompson coaches, though reasonable models, were truly awful - virtually yellow plastic! Used the same technique. These coaches come apart completely and you can remove the glazing easily so that you can work on the sides in isolation so I decided to try a spray clear lacquer I bought in a pound shop (also pictured) to see what would happen. A better effect and you get a large can for not a lot of money. But the Gresleys' glazing is virtually welded into the bodies and would require a lot of fiddley masking. I assume that the white painted horizontal lines on the Thompsons' windows are supposed to represent handrails. I will reglaze the windows with packaging material (free!) and use old guitars strings (free!) to create handrails behind the windows - on one side only of course, adjacent to the corridor. If you're not a musician, you can buy cheap strings online for a couple of quid. They have the advantage of springing out dead straight so they can be used for all sorts of things. And of course you get six different thicknesses. The Thompsons were particularly successful. As you may know, the originals were never wood constructed, but metal painted to look like wood - and the results gave this appearance. They have no interiors so I may add them in the future.

Of course, I'm not claiming my results equal the finish on the present Hornby range. But it gets quite close - you can achieve that reddish tinge you get in teak. You can go online and find photos of restored coaches to get a colour match. And the great thing is - you don't need to be a skilled painter, it's quick and it costs virtually nothing. Just make sure you apply a thin coat - and only one. The thicker the coat the darker the effect. The paints are acrylic so you can wash off your experiments till you get the effect you want. Hopefully the before/after photos I have posted will provide the improvement that can be made. It's difficult to show how appallingly 'plasticky' these coaches are. Very satisfying when you have completed a rake and they certainly look smart headed by an A4.
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Re: LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby Bufferstop » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:25 pm

Time well spent, the differences in shading on the coaches depending on how they were built and painted comes out well. The SVR has a rake of LNER teaks and I don't think any two of them look quite the same shade.
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Re: LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby Ex-Pat » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:54 pm

Quite a world of difference - nice job.

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Re: LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby glencairn » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:54 pm

Bufferstop wrote:. The SVR has a rake of LNER teaks and I don't think any two of them look quite the same shade.

At the time of LNER and BR coaches in the same rake often looked different colours. I don't think two tins of paint were the same. :D

Excellent work rogerabbit.

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Re: LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby rogerabbit » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:17 pm

Thanks for the kind comments. Regards. Roger.

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Re: LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby pete12345 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:49 pm

Looks great! Now I need to dig out my old LNER sleeping cars and improve them :D
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Re: LNER COACHES - Improving old Hornby models

Postby Mountain » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:42 pm

I was recently looking at something similar regarding these coaches where the modeller decided to work on the older LNER models rather then buy new, and his reasoning was not about price but about accuracy of the model. He pointed out a few aspects of the new models which don't match the prototype where the older models did. (I'm talking about the coaches now sold in the railroad range). He stated that the livery details were only correct to a very brief period under early British Railways ownership, and he stated that the wood effect on the new models looks like a single board was used for the whole coach side, where the prototype used many boards. He did a similar work to improve the old models by using wood stain which looked very effective indeed.
While most of us don't really mind models with slight inaccuracies of the smaller details, it is the general look and feel of the item which makes the difference. Sometimes one can't explain why one model looks right and another version does not, as one may not know what one is looking at to tell the difference. I don't know how I know and what I am looking at, but I can normally tell a "Blackstone" shunter out from a class 08, yet if I study pictures of the two, I don't have a clue what my eyes are picking out as somehow the two locos are different to look at.

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