Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A Job for Grandpa, Part 2 - Face time

I mentioned in my most recent post ( A Job for Grandpa ) that I anticipated the biggest challenge of the 'rebirthing' job would be the creation of the Thomas face.This has proved to be correct. While it was easy to find a 2D image on the internet and scale it up to the necessary diameter, creating a 3D shape has required a fair bit of extra effort.

Previously, I anticipated using styrofoam to gain the necessary depth but I have noticed some modellers using clay as a construction material. When my wife, quite independently,  also suggested this material, I thought I would give it a try.

I found a suitably sized image to use as a pattern and glued it to the piece of timber that serves as the front of the boiler. I then moulded the clay to give the appropriate relief and a very sunburnt Thomas.

Not surprisingly, as the clay dried out, it cracked in several places leaving Thomas' face looking more like the face of someone of my age. I used 'Weldbond' glue to fill the mini chasms and this only enhanced the image of a geriatric Thomas.

The next step was to cover the whole face with an automotive body filler. Now Thomas' face started to look like someone recovering from a bad case of chicken pox, regardless of several attempts at sanding and refilling.

Several coats of grey primer were then applied before the mouth and eye details were added. The final step will be the application of a couple of  gloss vanish to seal everything.

There are a few mistakes, omissions and a fair bit of modeller's licence in this version of Thomas which I'm sure most readers can identify. However, if any of the grandchildren under the age of 10 comment on these, then I know I have someone who should be seriously encouraged in the model railway hobby.

However, it does seem that I will complete it in time for Christmas and, ultimately, that's what it is all about; refurbishing and overhauling a toy that has survived for almost 60 years, to provide enjoyment for the next generation of grandchildren.

As the Christmas tree is now up and decorated, it is a clear sign that, again, the festive season and the end of another year are rapidly approach.

As always at this time of the year, I would like to acknowledge all those individuals who have assisted me with comments, advice, information or materials as well as the opportunity to participate in operating sessions, all of which have enhanced my modelling activities in 2016.

And finally, to all readers, best wishes to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas and a very happy 2017.   


  1. Hi Phil,
    you have done a great job there. Looking forward to seeing James, Henry or Gordon next year.


  2. Bob,

    thanks. Probably won't see James, Henry or Gordon in that scale. The problem is motive power. That might seem a bit strange for locomotives but these are push along toys and the motive power form this is usually one grandfather who gets tired pushing just one locomotive.

    However, OO scale is a possibility.

    cheers Phil