SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

MY ARMOURED TRAIN (Progress Report) March 5

A few days ago I started on a new project, to convert a Timpo Prairie Railway engine and fuel wagon into something more military. I think an explanation on how we got here is appropriate. Often mentioned, Paul Watson has been a sponsor of many collections on this blog, and in this project it is 100%. Paul's own traditional toy soldier collection is nearing completion and he decided to clear more of his abundant spares. Several boxes duly arrived but, on this occasion, they comprised American-West railway items, made in the 1970s by Timpo, a very well established British manufacturer of 54mm toy soldiers.

The boxes contained the following. Three 1850-1950 style steam engines. Three fuel wagons (which actually carry the batteries that power the trains). Two passenger carriages, and two freight carriages. The track comprised eight straight pieces, and twenty-four curved pieces. Arguably, enough for three working trains.

The condition of the train stock varied from excellent to quite good. The three fuel/battery wagons seemed to work but it should be noted that the power-system is primitive by today's standards, somewhat haphazard, a bit unreliable (just like the real thing in the 1970s). The three steam engines do have a design flaw, its not uncommon for their front wheels to break free from the track, strange!

THE PROJECT

I decided to use one engine and fuel wagon to construct my armoured train, choosing those that most showed signs of wear, or missing parts. Initially, I wasn't too bothered about losing their ability to run on batteries, but that soon changed. I have ended up spending quite a few hours achieving a system to make the battery connections operational. I 'think' they work, but only time will really tell. If I may be so bold, the reduced length of the steam engine seems to keep it on the tracks better than the originals!

Here are some photos, with the armoured train en route to be painted. Have decided to go for a slightly brighter shade of green. This will allow me to use it in conjunction with several army collections. In constructing a toy armoured train you have a fair amount of leeway as to its appearance. (Will probably add some further detail before its final paint job.)

Early Work
The photo below shows the front wheels fixed further back.
As for the other two train sets. The best will be left as Timpo envisaged, using their original black and red livery. The second is their mainly dark blue variation (with some missing parts). I'm tempted to paint it all-black, but it needs more thought.

Here are just a few historical photos which have caught my eye, no copyright infringement intended.

MGB

20 comments:

  1. It's truly wonderful Michael! Just as I imagined it might turn out, although much more detailed! Your rivet work is excellent and the turret is beautiful! This will really add an exciting element to your future games! Very well done indeed!

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    1. Thanks for the morale boost, Brad, I've still got some more detail to add, and the paintwork will supplement it further. I know my wargaming doesn't really require the battery system working but it is a nice touch to know it does. It will be predominantly a mid-green colour with a fair amount of black. Neutral enough to serve with half a dozen armies.
      Michael

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  2. Ooh ! toy soldiers and trains ! - very envious of your new train

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    1. Hi Tony, imagine my surprise when a box of trains arrived. Still to decide if I should add a third carriage, suitably armoured. Just been adding some black paint to some of the detail. Won't mix up the green until I'm fairly sure the detail is finished. This will certainly add a new feature to my gaming, might even drift into the garden, lol.
      Michael

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    1. Thanks MJT, although the Ordnance grey (primer) often hides a multitude of errors, lol.
      Michael

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  4. Oh, Michael - you take a broken, surplus train and you turn it into something quite quite amazing. My hat is doffed, my ghast is flabbered and my awe is struck. This is simply superb and shows far more imagination than I've got. What a superb turn out. Made my day - didn't know what you had planned but, as usual you've just smashed my expectations and raised to bar for other model makers :) "Brav-bloomin'-o, Sir"- as L. George might once have said.

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    1. Thank you Paul, plasticard is the answer, also, the original train is made of a hard density plastic, pretty much the same as Airfix kits, so the poly cement works perfectly. Add to this the wonders of the internet, for inspiration. By the way, you sent a broken 18pdr WW1 field gun, the wheels have gone towards a French Mountain gun c.1900, but the barrel, turned upside down, looks much like the Japanese turret gun..... perfect! Thanks again for your sponsorship.
      Michael

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  5. A stylish transformation, Michael.

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    1. Thank you Mark, the plasticard arrived so had a choice which to work on first, an armoured train, or a Japanese armoured car?
      Michael

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  6. You have made an excellent conversion full of character and menace, in a good way if you know what I mean.

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    1. Cheers Alan, I do enjoy working with plasticard, and I think my collection is enhanced with more such models working with my toy soldier collection. No way could I afford originals in top condition, for example the tin plate tanks.
      Michael

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  7. Really impressive work Mike - captures the toy soldier feel while also retaining the historic influence. If I may be so bold, one of the finest pieces in the collection. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

    Best wishes as ever,

    George

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    1. Thank you George, as it happens, it will be a very useful addition. I was looking at my 1930s-WW2 Soviets and had to admit to having no artillery! Well, I can claim a three man crew in the gun wagon, its something at least! Yes, pop over whenever.
      Michael

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    2. Look forward to seeing it deployed.

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  8. I was wondering at what time the turrets came into use? I want a Boer War era armored train but I think that too early for turrets.

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    1. Hi Q. I can only give you a general opinion. Shields for guns go back centuries, but they were uncommon. They start to gain favour during the 1870s. I suspect Naval guns followed or inspired this new fashion, and probably included some which could be described as turrets, the US Monitor (ACW) being possibly the first. If one is used on a ship, why not a train? The 2ndBW is 1899-1902, so period correct, but with the heat they may have preferred open-back or half-turrets?
      Michael

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  9. Dear Michael, amazing looking armoured train - very nice. Best regards and greetings from Melbourne- Quinn

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    1. Thank you, Sir. And best wishes to our kinsfolk in Australia (I'm assuming thats not Melbourne in Derbyshire, lol).
      Michael

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    2. Yes Australia, love your work big inspiration for me a newbie to the hobby. Many thanks again

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