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A playground J94

Phil Parker


On page 87 of the June 2016 issue of BRM, I've built a little diorama recreating a scene from my youth - a J94 marooned in a park as a climbing frame. Space precluded a full step-by-step build on the page, but we've plenty of space on RMweb, so here we go:




The locomotive come sfrom an Airfix kit supplied by the Kitmaster Collectors Club. Apparently this model the fire at Dapol's factory so isn't in the current range. Fortunately, for this project, a part-built kit is perfect and there are loads of those for sale second hand.




As with many diorama projects, the base is an off-cut of 9mm plywood. Size isn't important, but flat wood is so no using up warped stuff!




While the playground might have been reasonably flat, a model looks odd if the ground is as level as a piece of wood, so some contours are built up using cheap ready-mix DIY wall filler. Once dry, this is painted with cheap DIY brown matchpot emulsion. I find a surprising amount of my modelling materials outside the "proper" suppliers, but if it does the job, I'll use it.




Grass is easy enough, normal electrostaic stuff from Greenscene is perfect, although flock powder would also do the job as playgrounds tended to be fairly well mown. Around the locomotive, I recall tree bark intended to cushion the fall of children plummeting from the footplate. This not being (as far as I am aware) available in any scenic range, some improvisation with the dried contents of used tea bags filled the gap.




Fencing is laser cut card from the modelrailwayscenery.com range. It requires bending to follow the ground and some weight to hold the posts in place while the PVA glue dries.




Locomotives in parks tended to have many of the removable parts unscrewed before the kids got their hands on them. Thus, the clock hands are gone from the smokebox door, cab detail is simplified (much like the kit) and even some handrails were taken away. All easy enough to do on a plastic kit. For real prototype fidelity, I should have removed the dome cover and scratchbuilt the inside, but that would have taken as long as the rest of the model!




While installing the fence, one of the bars broke. Instead of repairing this, I added a muddy path from chinchilla sand behind to show where dozens of people had hopped over and damaged the wood.




Benches from Metcalf Models complete the scene. The livery is a bit of a guess as the only photos I have are in black and white, but local councils always seemed to go for something gaudy. My childhood memory is that the real locomotive spend quite a lot of time painted pure red oxide but photos show this wasn't always the case.


If a steam engine doesn't suit your model, I know of an 03 diesel, steam roller and even tiny diesel roller that were found in local parks, perhaps a good use for old and tired models?

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This sort of thing is a great way of practising modelling skills without spending lots of money.  And as with your fence, if you do break something or scratch the paint job on your shiny loco, it's probably like that in real life and adds some interest. 


There's an 08 from the Brighton Pullman Shed rusting in a filed in Leavening.  It can either be modelled on a piece of track or up on the railway equivalent of bricks!:


17607436718_812b0b1533_q.jpgD3255 by CHIEF ANORAK, on Flickr


23734318871_b5e0022fa8_q.jpgForgotten? D3255 at a farm in Leavening- 09.08.15 by 51C Monkey Madness, on Flickr

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This sparked off a memory from the 1970's of a similar steam loco somewhere in a park in Chelmsford! Even the colour seems right. But I could be very wrong.

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East Carlton Park just outside Corby still has a locomotive as play equipment, but I have a feeling it's painted yellow as opposed to green. It has been a few years since I was last there though, so it might not be there anymore.

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Vancouver had the same thing done to the first passenger loco to enter in to it in 1886 , now restored and stuffed in  comunity center called the round house


Engine 374 at the Roundhouse Community Centre

Engine 374 is a locomotive that pulled the first passenger train to enter Vancouver on May 23, 1887. It sat lonely and deteriorating in Kitsilano Park for many years until train-lovers rescued and restored it in time for Expo 86.

After a major fundraising campaign by the Vancouver Central Lion’s Club it found its new home in the glass pavilion attached to the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, where it is a designated heritage monument.

Learn more about Engine 374 globe.gif

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