With my layout being Southern Region 1967/8ish I have a lot of scope for Electric Multiple Units (EMU). Sadly, an area mostly ignored by RTR manufacturers. Apart from scratch-building - something I am crap at - the only option available is kits.

BH Enterprises do several kits and whereas the casting and bits are fine, I have never had much susccess sticking brass etched side on the horrible clear plastic bodies. Adam Warr at Electra Railway Graphics does a range of transfers that go onto (mostly) Farish Mk1 63ft coaches. The coaches need to be prepared with a coat of gloss white paint having been rubbed down to remove the old paint and door relief etc. The final results are really very impressive - even given that the windows are opaque, being printed in a graduated grey scale (which is actually pretty convincing and not to be confused with some rubbish I have seen elsewhere). As with anything - get *lots* of pictures and study them. This will really help you to get a convincing model.

The coaches (I purchase mainly from ebay where you tend to find bargains and some scrappers for pennies) have their chassis and rooves removed.  I then spend a while with 800 grit wet & dry gently rubbing down - make sure you do this properly or you *WILL* have trouble later. Wash the coach off in clean warm water, pat dry with tissue paper and put in a warm place and leave 'til morning. Holding the coach gently with a pair of snipe-nosed pliers on the coach end, provide a gentle spray of Halfords Grey Plastic Primer. I say gentle because you need to build up the coat with thin layers. If you try to provide the coat all in one you will find the paint will draw away from areas of the plastic (haven't sussed why, it ain't grease/dirt) and you get bald patches. Pass very lightly along one side then turn over and do the other. Gently waft the coach in the air for 30 secs and repeat. After two passes, you whould be able to get your final coat on which will provide the primed surface you are after. Leave to dry for at least 30 mins - longer if it's cold. Apply your gloss white - don't be tempted to drown the thing, you are better off with two or three quick passes than one prolonged drawn-out spray application. Just like with the primer.

Once you have all your coaches done; choose one to be the motor coach and put it to one side. For the others: cut a piece of roofers lead (2mm flashing) 125mm X 15mm, score one side with an old craft knife and glue to the inside bottom of the coach body (scored side down) with a drop or two of superglue or some epoxy resin. At 40g per coach, this may look like a lot of weight, especially when you consider this is going to be an 8 coach unit, with possibly a 4TC in tow but remember that there is a good portion of the unit being propelled and the weight really does limit de-railing of coaches in front of the motor.

 

Once the glue is set, you can put the roof back on. Apply a really thin line of super glue in the recess under the guttering - Really, a thin line, the stuff will "take" in tiny amounts and you don't need it squeezing out of the join.

Quickly, clip the roof into place and hold in postion with mini clamps. If you don't have these you need to hold it until the glue is set. DON'T BE TEMPTED TO SQUEEZE THE ROOF ONTO THE COACH! If you do, it is likely the coach body will deform and then be held in place like that by the glued roof. Just nip it with the clamps or hold with light pressure at both ends and the middle. Super glue (cyanoacrylate) is an-aerobic curing which means it won't go off if there is air about, so you need to make sure the joints close.

Your coaches are ready for the transfers. Now, I have gone to hell and back with these things. Adam suggests on his website that the transfers be laquered or given a coat of Johnson's Klear floor polish after to stop them getting scratched.  A gloss finish doesn't suit the completed units though. I tried some laquer from Maplins - it did the job brilliantly but has a gloss finish so I hunted around and (with reservations) this is the stuff for the job. Now, Adam does recommend a NON-ACRYLIC lacquer on his site and I have to recommend that you listen to that advice. I know this is an acrylic... I have paid the price but having learned from my mistakes, I am convinced that for the more careful among you, this is the stuff for the job. If you use this you do so at your own risk... This is what I used, if you go through the same curves as I did, well then you'll have done things the hard way as well.

It is waterproof and tough so it protects the transfers really well. It won't stand up to careless handling or being constantly rubbed by paper, card or similar, but what will? Prices vary for a 400ml spray can all the way up to a profiteering 8.99, but I found it here for just 3.89 (plus delivery). This stuff is good, but it must be applied very thinly and with light dustings, subliminates into the surface of the transfer maintaining it's matt finish. NOW THE WARNING: In heavier coats it will tear your transfers. You must spray your transfers *lightly* with this *before* applying them otherwise this happens: 

   

Bugger! What has happened is the acrylic shrinks very slightly while drying (as I found out after spraying the transfers once I had applied them to the coaches). It has gripped the transfer and pulled it. The transfer has cracked revealing the white undercoat. One coach was hardly touched (very light coat of acrylic) but the other two are badly crazed. I might be able to save the one by hiding the crazing in the (yet to be applied) weathering but the restaurant is a total loss so I have to ask Adam to print me another set and start again. Avoid thick coats as it can also crack the transfer on the backing sheet too! Once again: APPLY 1 OR 2 LIGHT DUSTINGS and let each dry fully between applications.

OK. Take your transfer sheet out into the garage and give it 1 or 2 light coats of acrylic about 15 mins apart. I find it best to spray from about 2 feet - gives a lot more control on how much spray makes it onto the sheet. Once *fully* dry (it will have a dull finish and you should be able to touch it with zero tackiness) you need to cut them from the sheet. I only cut the ones I am working with at that time - it stops you from losing bits and relieves the tedium of cutting them out. Use a scalpel or a *new* craftknife with a narrow blade on a cutting mat. Try not to use a steel rule to cut against as steel is not very forgiving on the transfer sheet and damage can result. I use an aluminium rule which is unlikely to mark the transfers. TAKE YOUR TIME. If you feel yourself getting flustered, leave it - go and have a cup of tea. The hobby is supposed to be enjoyable and no-one said you have to do all 8 coaches in one day.

For the driving trailers (the coaches with a drivers cab), do the ends first. File away the end detail: steps, down pipes etc. Then file the corners round to remove the sharp edges on the sides and roof end. The later Mk1 based stock had fibre-glass moulded ends and so had a softer more rounded look to them. You don't have to go mad, just round off all the edges on the coach and roof end. This will make for a very convincing look. Make sure you don't damage the door frame. If there is a gap between the roof and the coach, you may need to fill 'n' file a bit of Isopon P38. Then paint the whole end white. Go up to the roof a tad as the yellow extends up here too. While you are at it, you need to carefully remove any roof moulding in this area.

 

Cutting out the ends: First, with your really sharp scalpel, cut free-hand around the curve above the side sections (large circles in the pic below). - That's the tricky bit over. Finish cutting out the straights and you should now have three transfers free from the sheet.

Next, cut the small chamfer from the bottom of each side piece (small circles). At this point, offer up the three pieces to the coach end, just to check all is well... I always find the centre section is way too big for the door recess and end up cutting about 1.5mm from the top and re-chamfering it.

 

Notice also here that there are some distortions in the transfers (circled). This is down to me applying too much acrylic (doh!) but I can pull this back (yay!). I mucked up, you can too - BE WARNED! I simply can't mention this too many times! Right. Into the kitchen, boil a kettle and let it cool until you can just stand putting your finger in the water (hey don't sue me - I can tell what's safe for me - your mileage may vary) or about 60C. You need it this hot otherwise you risk the transfer losing colour or tearing when it comes away from the backing paper. Wet the tip of your finger and rub the area on the coach where the transfer is going - this makes it easier to position it. One at a time, starting with the centre door, drop the transfer into the water and emerse it with your finger. Count to 10 and take it out between fore-finger & thumb and slide the transfer 2mm off the backing paper (lengthways). Place this free end onto the area you want it and gently hold it in place so you can slide the paper from underneath the transfer. This way, the transfer is never really suspended in mid air and has little chance of getting mucked up. Position the transfer and then with the corner of a piece of tissue, *blot* any droplets of water on and around the transfer - JUST THE DROPLETS. Don't press or rub or blow or anything, otherwise you are going to be like me... asking Adam for some more transfers.

If all goes well and you are careful, you should end up with a coach end like this:

It's already starting to look good. It is now clear where the yellow and black bits go, but don't go getting the paint out just yet - you still have the sides to do. These are easy to cut out, so get that done and using the same technique as above (don't forget to wet the coach side), slide the transfer on. I like to leave about 1mm between the transfer and the guttering so I can slide it up to the roof for a snug fit and no wrinkles. Do one side at a time, don't be tempted to drop both transfers in the water, whip them out and apply them. This is because you will need to be on the ball with each - once slid into place, you should find the transfer is about 2mm over size - this is because it is going to shrink while it dries. Keep a watch that it is in the right position at all times! (sorry about pic quality)

Each transfer takes about 5-10 mins to "settle" and if you find the shrinkage has exposed a little of the white under coat you will need to deal with this later with a fine brush and some BR Blue. Once done, you should have something looking like this:

Really starting to look interesting now! All that remains to be done at this stage is to fold the bottom of the transfers under the coach body and stick them (a little clear varnish is ideal), fill in with yellow (wraps around to the sides and roof by about 0.5mm [which will cover the white exposed by the shrink]) pick out the connecting door facia in black and that's it. On the other end, paint with matt black to cover the white undercoat. Re-chassis, weather slightly (it was always grubby) and enjoy. Leave each coach in a warm place for 2 or 3 hours before attempting any paintwork.

Producing the motor coach

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