Tuesday, 6 December 2016


I can't remember who it was had the album of that name but it always rolled nicely off the tongue.
I also was and still am a huge fan of the band Caravan AND I've lived in three over the years, so I have a bit of a soft spot for them.
So when the idea of using a caravan as an extension to the rather small cafe I've made for Lantern Yard I was keen. I started to have a look online at suitable styles, then recalled making a really old fashioned style job for a "critter" in O9.  Never finished it though, but I liked it. It had an Austin 7 Ruby grille on the front and a verticle exhaust.
  Easily pried off, the auto bits are now elsewhere and the marks repaired and repainted, although I liked the buff shade of nothing muchness that it was before and the matt finish. Caravans do that if you don't polish them.  Especially old ones which were probably painted in early cellulose.  I liked the clerestory I'd worked into the thing originally, too.  Faded elegance everywhere.

I cleared a space for it at right angles to the caff and made a rectangle of Foamex to represent a new concrete pad on which the 'van, sans its wheels which were shot to hell anyway will sit.

Apparently an old showman had originally given the 'van to a friend who was told that he could use it on a preserved Colonel Stevens Heritage line, what was to be one of the first, following on from L.T.C. Rolt's efforts on the Talyllyn.  Work had begun using matey's old Austin 7 Ruby, but then he was informed that it wouldn't "do" for the railway to have such a thing   This was one of many duff choices on the part of the committee of old farts who ran the thing and it soon folded for ever.  Tom Rolt heard of its fate and offered storage for it, which seems to have saved it, for, a few years later when it came up for sale, the blacksmith bought it as a project.  His wife was not best amused at news of its imminent arrival, but took one look and just knew what she had to do.  The Austin bits were knackered and partly robbed anyway, so the blacksmith took them all off, re-skinned the front, ripped the insides out and fitted it with simple bench seats.  The concrete pad was cast and wide of the mark to allow a small sitting area.  The addition to Lantern Yard's vernacular collection was an immediate success with all concerned, although the Saturday morning meet-ups with the local biker boys proved an especially popular event.  They had nowhere much to go and here was a pleasant ride out, no Police, good grub and and endless tea and coffee.  Now there was no squeezing into the hot, steaming caff space.  You got your grub and your mugs of tea and carried them off to the 'Van for a peaceful session of chat with the lads or a corner with the new bird.  You could leave your bike outside with no fear of anyone messing with it.  If they tried it they'd go for a swim in very short order!

Realising the caff was a bit too close to the railway, they permanently closed the side door and instead opened up a new door in the end.

The lock gates have been shortened, although they will be sitting on top of a 3mm sheet of Perspex.  Here you can see that I've laminated sheets of Foamex to the tops of the lock sides as I needed it to be firmer and carvable without the filler falling to bits.  This is a big improvement.

I went to town to buy a micro-pot of Humbrol's worst matt black for the roof of the workshop and the lock gates and whilst there, noticed they had weathering powders.  I laughed at the silliness of having pots of stuff you can make yourself for pennies and said as much to the woman.  She informed me that the pots of powders were no less than £4-40!!!  Yet across the shop was a packet of chalk pastels for 45p!  She had no idea that any of those and a spare bit of old sandpaper was all you need to make the stuff in the hugely overpriced tubs of weathering powders.  
I have a pack of oil pastels bought in error thinking they were chalk, so I wondered if they would respond to white spirit.  They did, very subtly and so I lightly weathered the caravan by drawing a few lines of pastel on a spare bit of styrene, then softening it with a very fine brush dipped into a very small amount of white spirit.  I am well pleased with the results.  Weathering can be very overdone and usually is in my view.


  1. I'm really enjoying seeing this project progress, keep it coming please.

    Overdone weathering, hmmm. A lot of US outline logging layouts are in my opinion grossly overweathered, its like the modeller has to be seen to be using the latest most fashionable techniques and products rather than trying to produce a realistic scene.

  2. Exactly Paul. If it were France they were modelling I could understand it as the entire place appears to be falling to bits, but there has to be a point where you stop with the flaking paint and missing roof elements. I find that accidents like the oil pastels and powders made from chalk pastels and fag ash work just fine and cost almost nothing. I DO have airbrushes, but haven't used them for weathering yet.
    I'm pleased you like to follow the progress of Lantern Yard. It's nice to have some time for my stuff.