Bachmann OBA

Although later than my principal period, I hang onto a few 1980s-ish bits and bobs that I did ‘back in the day’ of Culreoch and Wintringham Haven, particularly as Ken (Gibbons) still retains more than a foothold in that scene.   One such is this Bachmann OBA, repainted into shabby Freight Maroon from the EWS model that was one of the initial introductions.

Dealing with the mechanical bits first, these wagons will convert to EM if you want them to – as long as you use ‘proper’ scale wheels and not just pulled-out Bachmann ones, which have wider treads and will take up too much width in the axleguard units.  This underside shot shows this, and also the block of plastic that I glued at the back edge of the axleguard unit to prevent it swivelling too much.  Moving onto cosmetics, the factory rendition of the roller bearing axleboxes is a bit unconvincing on these models, so I replaced these with Chivers mouldings – the image is clickable and there’s a telltale change in the paint finish that shows how far back the mouldings have to be filed:


As ever, the livery details were my main interest and the vehicle represents an Ashford product from the first Lot built, 3909, and having been retro-fitted with Bruninghaus springs for Speedlink work.    Although the wagon’s been around a while, I took the brief opportunity on sunshine the other weekend to take these next few updated pics.

As well as the usual toning down and odd scuffs, there are odd replacement planks picked out in either black or a different shade of red.   This is something which affects  all wooden bodied opens, but BR’s air braked fleet seemed to have even greater propensity to it than earlier traditional stock; some of the piebald concoctions to be seen  by the time of the EWS takeover were quite fantastic:


Another characteristic effect I wanted to replicate was the maroon overspray onto the inner ends, something I’d picked up on from a period photo.  I’m sure an airbrush would produce this perfectly but all I did was stipple small amounts of paint with a cotton bud:


As an aside, this livery is one of those that courts misunderstanding and mythology.  Quite apart from the exact shade and the related arguments over what ‘maroon’ actually is, it was a livery used from late 1975 and gave way to the flame red and grey mix from 1979.  Once weathered though, it can be indistinguishable from the earlier brown/bauxite shades, and many people think that’s what it is.  I remember on a visit to Carlisle Currock some twenty years ago, someone scraping the side of a stored VDA with a coin to prove otherwise…


The final shot shows a later development, some ‘new’ modelling!  If I recall correctly, the packing cases  were done a couple of years back for Llangerran’s appearance at Thirsk show.  They’re intended to be vaguely MOD-looking although owe more to the method used (block and sheet balsa) than to the photos on Paul Bartlett’s site that provided the impetus.   They’re made up as four sets of two, back to back, and the sizes worked out well enough for two pairs to fit in a traditional 10ft wheelbase Highfit.  Transfers are from various aeroplane kits, a hangover from my lad’s younger days and kept, as one does, because they ‘looked useful’.

Wagons do look better with loads though, it gives them a purpose.  I have a shoebox full of equally likely-looking bits and bobs to work on, and I wish I had more time to devote to the subject.

As explained in a parallel post on my other blog, Hal o’ the Wynd, life has been a bit full lately and this awful ‘winter that won’t let go’ has delayed all sorts of projects, but as most of my recent dabblings are nowhere near finished, I thought I’d dig out something that was, before this blog became one of those with no activity from one year to the next!  I am however currently conducting a journey around some of my ‘in progress’ minerals over on  Modellers United,  so if you’re not averse to single-subject threads and models that are not shiny RTR any more but look like someone’s had a barbecue on them, feel free to drop by and take a look.

On the subject of Llangerran, Ken’s layout now has four shows under its belt and  a new page here for it is under construction – check back soon for pics and (if I can get the file formats sorted) video as well…


Filed under Wagon loads, Wagon weathering

12 responses to “Bachmann OBA

  1. David Long

    Excellent work, as usual, Ian. Especially like the load. I’m always frustrated by the fact that photos of Highfits always seem to show them empty. Did BR really have a policy of moving empty wagons around the network just because they could? Not surprised that their finances were in a dreadful state by the 1960s.


    • Thanks David, good to see you at York btw.

      “Did BR really have a policy of moving empty wagons around the network just because they could?”

      It was always said that the Gas Board’s fleet of vans were for moving their holes around 😉 It’s notoriously hard though to pin down what they did, I suspect many were kept ‘just in case’, for bulky items that weren’t suited to going in vans – it is possible to find photos of them loaded in the steam nostalgia mags, but not always as close as we’d like!

  2. Always like to see weather worn wagons and that is a beauty and I also like to model loads where I can. Like you say it gives them a purpose but also gives the layout purpose as you can wind a story around them or equally write them into an existing tale based on your chosen prototype location and its native industry. A shunting layout is much more fun when you can see where and what is to be shunted for unloading.

    • Thanks Graham

      Must admit, even with obviously unladen opens or vans, I enjoy shunting more if I’ve made up a reason in my head for it being there. I believe it’s called ‘immersion’…

  3. “Wagons do look better with loads though, it gives them a purpose. I have a shoebox full of equally likely-looking bits and bobs to work on, and I wish I had more time to devote to the subject.”

    Wish I knew where to start! Though if David’s right, perhaps I needn’t worry too much about my empty highs. That just leaves the lows :-S

    • “Wish I knew where to start!”

      Sounds like scope for more blog items then, based on the content of that shoebox!

      As I said above, you can find some inspiration in the steam mags, but really the mindset (which is difficult in this day and age) is to remember that the traditional railway carried almost anything and everything, and that some bulky items just wouldn’t go in a van. It’s difficult to explain, but some of the bits I have in mind won’t actually ‘be’ anything in particular, they’ll just look kinda plausible…

      • David Long

        Agreed, Ian, but I still find it astounding that in 1966 BR still had around 75000 High goods on its books which was about the same number of covered vans in traffic. I suppose one answer to the load question in opens is to run them sheeted!

  4. Pingback: What next? | Foundry Lane

  5. Hi Ian,
    Thanks for sending me the link.
    Can I ask what colour paint you used? And would I correct in thinking VAA and other vans were painted this colour too, I have a Bachmann van that might be a good colour match.

    Thanks again Peter.

    • Hi Peter, welcome to blogland 🙂

      The basic wagon was an EWS one and I just removed the yellow bits and patched them in with coaching stock maroon ‘cos I happened to have some; I don’t remember what make. I think I recall saying at the time that Shildon and Ashford maroons look different in photos, so I doubt it’s all that crucial under the weathering.

      The VDA vans were delivered in maroon (so far as I know) and some of the earlier type were definitely repainted maroon as there are some on one of Dave Larkin’s books. The other thing that happened is that some had the Railfreight logo added over a patch of fresh maroon. The thing with the maroon though is that once weathered, it’s pretty much indistinguishable from Freight Brown – because of that, some people won’t have it that it actually existed. In that connection, I also recall the crud on a stored VDA at Currock being scraped away with a coin to establish that 😉

  6. Hi Ian,
    Thanks, I have given the wagon another coat of paint but using more red, it looks alot better though not perfect. It’s going to be a worn out ZDA Bass so it should be ok.
    Can I ask what colours you use for the inside of your wagons as I am not happy with some of mine.

    Cheers Peter.

    • Sorry for the delay, Peter. I’m sure the livery colour will be OK, in fact if it’s a scruffy Bass, the more variegated the better – it’s stuff like that that occasionally makes me want to take up the period again!

      As far as I can remember the basic wood on the OBA would have been a Humbrol colour, probably #72 or #110 and very likely with some light grey mixed in. Wood does vary of course according to the life it’s had and in other instances, I might use more grey than brown. As with most things weathering-wise, it’s not so much the precise colours as what you do with them – the most effective measure, I think, is to tone and smear that base layer with a thin wash of grey or brownish-grey to give the illusion of staining and graining.

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