Tank Engine Conversion


You may be familiar with Hornby’s 0-4-0 tank engine “Smokey Joe”, it’s a good little model and pops up on all kinds of layout. For me, it does have one problem – the words “Smokey Joe” graffitied on the engine’s sides. Now graffiti may be true to life (indeed, on a recent train journey I passed a rake of mineral wagons where every single one had been “tagged”) but it’s not something I want on my locomotives. With that in mind I went to work improving the paintwork.

I didn’t think the chassis needed any work so I removed “Joe’s” body and set aside the chassis for later. The body on this model is quiet easy to remove, a firm but careful pull and it comes right off. As the words “Smokey Joe” are slightly raised from the rest of the body they would need to be removed otherwise they would show through after painting. I tried using sandpaper to do this and I wouldn’t recommend this. Sandpaper is to rough and I ended up with tiny scratches on the model. Railway modelling magazines recommend using T-Cut or similar to remove details so if you are planning your own project invest in this instead. After this small disaster I removed the whistle as I didn’t want this painted and I covered the chimney and top and inside of the cab in masking tape. “Joe” was now ready for painting.

For the paint I went with green enamel spray paint from Halfords. This paint is meant for touching up car paint work but it’s good for modelling too. If you don’t have or don’t like Halfords I imagine spray paints for plastics from any other supplier will do just fine. Use spray paint outside wherever possible. I went with one liberal coat all over and was satisfied with the result. As an added bonus the thickness of the paint concealed the small scratches left by the sandpaper. Once the paint was dry the body was reattached to the chassis.

Wanting to add some extra detail I ordered up name and number plates from Narrow Planet. Narrow Planet makes the plates out of brass to order and prices are reasonable enough. The only thing is delivery can take some time as they only make the plates when they have enough orders so plan in advance if you are going to use them. When the plates arrived I used super glue to attach them to “Joe”. The name and number are in relatively the same place on each side, I didn’t have any guides to work from so placement was guesswork.

All that was left was to glue in the plastic crew as supplied with the model and paint them. I’ve glued them in but they are still waiting for paint. I haven’t weathered the model, I only have weathering powders at the moment and I don’t think they will stay stuck on to enamel paint very well. With the conversion as finished as its going to get for now private owner engine No. 1 Mio is ready for duty.


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