Distillers CO2 TTA

This is another project that goes back over 20 years. On a visit to an Exhibition there was a trader selling resin tops for CO2 tanks, I am afraid I just can’t remember who, but the quality was very good. I decided to buy six tops.

I looked at the instructions when I got home and the donor wagon was suggested as the Lima PGA. At the time these were quite cheap, so I purchased six secondhand rather tatty models.

Simple conversion this, I split the wagons and discarded the hopper and glued the new tops on to the chassis, an excellent fit. This is another white barrel with orange stripe wagon that needed masking and hand painting.

The new top was excellent, but the underframe detail is still original hopper and not prototypical at all. I did add some ‘bits’  to the underframe that helped a bit, but it is all very much a compromise.

Easy project for an average model but a nice to have rake.

The lettering is again ‘letraset’.







Plasmor Block PNA

This was another case of ‘what shall I do with my old wagons’ after an upgrade to a superior model. This time I had 6 Hornby VDA of various liveries.

About this time and only for a short period the Plasmor Block train ran through Ely instead of down the ECML. This gave me the opportunity to run another type of wagon on my layouts.

After much research I realised that the Hornby model was perhaps not the best starting point, but there was no way I was going to start taking the razor saw to Bachmann’s latest model, I continued with the Hornby. I duly razor sawed the wagons, removing the roof, the body sides and the tops of the ends. After giving them a clean up I added the new floor and the hand rails.  The hardest part of this project was to produce suitable fold down side flaps that help secure the load of blocks. I used brass wire and scenic mesh, which seemed to be about the right screen.

All were put together on the wagons. I put the side flaps on after painting the main wagon. I made these wagons about 10 years ago and they are still not quite finished. Each wagon should carry four ‘block pallet separators’ and straps for securing the load. There also seems to be a lot of residue left on the wagons after unloading, so its ripe for weathering powders. I will try to update them sometime.

A lot of work on this unfinished project and I certainly have a rare rake of wagons. I think I could have done better, especially with the Bachmann wagons as the base, I also think that loaded wagons would have been better. I have put this unfinished project on this site to show that ‘having a go’  is worth it, rather than just wondering  whether  you should attempt it.








Warwell & Warflat

During a visit to Ely I saw a MOD train on its way to Dereham. The MNR being used to unload vehicles and stores for the Swanton Morley Base. Part of this train was formed of Warflats and Warwells and I was impressed with these very solid-looking wagons. Soon after my visit, sadly the traffic ceased.

I looked around the Model Trade for options on both types and I was very pleased to see that Genesis Kits did both models in whitemetal. I quickly purchased 2 Warflats  and 1 Warwell, as that was what I saw on their way to Dereham .

On arrival I inspected the kits, they were very good. Over the next few weeks I completed the project. My son made the transfers for me after a bit of research.

These wagons date back to the second world war, but they have seen many upgrades and amendments. You really need to check the specification you require for your chosen era. I believe Bachmann have announced some models two years ago, but nothing else has happened. These wagons I believe will start off with original designs with original bogies. I needed as running in 2000-5, so the Genesis ones suited my needs.

I originally saw Landrovers on the wagons on my trip to Ely and I managed to source some. I am not very good on Landrover history, so I hope they match the wagons!!

I usually run these wagons with VGA, VDA and VEA.







LP – gas TTA

This project does not need any moulding or purchased extras. The Hornby TTA is again the base donor wagon. In the late eighties when I made these, the cost of second hand TTA’s were only £2 to £3, so a rake of eight was to be made.

I stripped the wagons down into chassis and barrels. I then discarded the bits that were no longer needed and set about making the new parts from plastic card. At this stage I have to admit that I did not know what the new parts were or what some of them did. This was a real case of prototype modelling based on research, drawings and photographs. Luckily the batch I was making changed very little, if at all during their life.

I then assembled the new wagons after filling some holes that were no longer required. I then painted the whole body white. Even although I had painted orange body stripes before, masking and hand painting eight wagons certainly taxed my concentration.

Again, if tackling this project today, there are much better TTA to start with as donors. But of course the rake of eight would be an expensive outlay.

The LP-gas logo’s were made with ‘letraset’ sheets.




CBA Lime Hoppers


This time, the project mirrors real life. The CBA was a variation of the HAA coal hopper. Although built to CBA spec. from new and not converted, the model would be a converted HAA.

I must point out at this stage that I used the old Hornby version of the HAA. This model has since been significantly updated and would have been a much better starting point. As I did this project over 20 years ago, I had no option.

No scratch building or moulding this time as Appleby Models did the tops to convert the HAA to a CBA. I purchased four and the project started. At this point I have to say that I do not think the conversion kit is available anymore.

The kit was very well designed and went together well with the Hornby Hopper. Plenty of photographs were available and I noted just how dirty and discoloured the prototype was.

I was considering making a prototype top for myself, so that I can increase my rake to a more prototypical set. Sadly this is now firmly on the back burner, but you never know!








TUA Acid Tanks + Barriers


Probably one of the most dangerous trains ever to run on British Railways. To give the train its proper name, it was ‘Hydrocyanic Acid 99.5% – Poison and Flammable’. Nasty stuff, carried very carefully with modified wagons and barrier vehicles, plus a brake van.

This traffic finished many years ago, I guess its on the road now – progress??

This whole train is Hornby based. Firstly the tanks are standard TTA models but with modified bodies and over-riders on the chassis. The barrier wagons are Hornby, but I can not remember which ones I used! It was only the chassis however as the actual superstructure had to be scratch built. The Brake van was a standard model made into an air braked model.

Plenty of photographs were available and this was quite a different project, and not seen very often on early 80’s layouts.

I made these wagons about 20 years ago and again if using up to date standards as base models I am sure better results could be made.

Basic modelling, but better than waiting for RTR that has never turned up or likely to.

The train comprises of 3 tanks, 2 barriers and 1 brake van.




WBB minerals PAA Sand Wagon

When you would like a wagon and none are available RTR,   there is only one way to get one (or more), you have to build them.  The first thing I usually do is to look at what is available RTR and what bits are usable.  Luckily the PAA is very much like the Hornby PGA, the main difference being the PAA has a moveable hood for loading. After loading the hood is closed and the sand is discharged from hopper doors beneath the wagon.

A trip to Ely to photograph the wagons then followed, plus a good rummage through photographs on the web. Not many shots of the hood or the mechanism from above were found, but just enough to have a good stab at the hood. After measuring the Hornby model  I made my first prototype hood out of plastic card.  It looked good, but further prototypes followed until I was happy with the fit and  the general overall appearance.

I then made a mould and cast eight tops to convert the PGA. There were other small cosmetic details that needed to  be done, these were done as individual items, to be fitted separately. The production line was ready and after a couple of nights work they were ready. After under coating the overall colour scheme was applied. The transfers were home made and applied on to a coat of gloss varnish. The whole model was then matt varnished and lightly weathered.

The rake was then fitted with fixed 3mm sprat and winkle couplings and loops as internal couplings, with an instanter on the end with a tail lamp and a modified tension lock on the ‘hauled’ end. The sprats close couple nicely and are less obtrusive then other options, see photographs below.

Well there you are, something a bit different, for a reasonable cost, well it was when I made them over ten years ago.

Compared to modern standards they are a bit average, but again it was a good project from a reasonable base model.