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Revell London Country 480 Routemaster - the old school bus!


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My next build is something of a departure for me - well actually if you know me at all you'd say that for most of my builds as I tend to build whatever takes my fancy and fires my imagination, be it a WWII aircraft, bar-armoured recce tank or piece of Sci-Fi ingenuity. However for this build I'm coming down to earth with a bump - or rather a "ding ding hold on tight please"!

Back in the dim and distant past that was the 1970s I used to take the bus from my home village of Swanscombe in Kent to Gravesend to attend Gravesend School for Boys. The bus I invariably caught was a 480 whose route took it from the eastern side of Gravesend, Denton or Valley Drive all the way along the busy industrial North West Kent roads to Dartford and Erith. This was an ara of heavy industry, paper mills, printing factories and most of all cement factories. Blue Circle had the biggest cement factory in Europe on the banks of the Thames in Northfleet and Swanscombe also had its own cement works, in the shadow of whose chimney I grew up.

So, I hear you ask, what has this got to do with anything apart from me indulging in a little nostalgia? Well its because the heavy industry had a major impact upon everyday life in this area - it was filthy! If the wind blew in the wrong direction (which it did frequently) the emissions from the cement factory chimneys would float down through the air like snow, covering everything in a grey white ash powder and turning what would have been pristine clean buses into this:

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Phoarrr, look at the weathering on that!!! Overdone? I don't think so!

Thus instead of building another of the very pretty and shiny red London buses we've seen so much of over the last year or so (lovely as they may be), I will be attempting to produce a replica of RML 2343 from the early 70s period with the yellow London Country logos... in fact this exact bus:

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Now doesn't that look a pretty bus? Look at the paint loss, dents, dirt and general squallor!!! I won't be doing it with the jacks and wheel off, but I will be doing it with that livery and adverts (or lack of them!) Here is another shot:

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The model now - well of course its the old favourite Revell London bus:

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I won't bother with the sprue shots as they've been shown numerous times before, but I will talk about the decals. The kit decal sheet is enormous, mainly due to all those seat decals:

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However, I'm going to need some custom decals and here is what I've drawn up:

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and a close up of the advert:

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I had to create that from scratch in Photoshop, although I was able to reshape the one in the photo above to act as a guide. The most difficult part of that was getting a decent image of the Invicta horse symbol of Kent! The destination decals were created using a scan of the kit decal sheet and using that as a guide to build these over the top of the originals. Similarly, the London Country logo was created using the London Transport logo of the kit as a guide for the font, size and spacing. The yellow used is an approximate match - does anyone have an exact colour for the yellow used?

On to building then! First off is the engine. I'm using the earlier Leyland engine and I added some details and changed some of the pipework around to match photos I found in the Haynes Routemaster manual and online and then of course I dirtied it up...

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Did some wheels, which still need to be dirtied up:

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The lower deck was next which started off like this:

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and ended up like this:

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Then there are the seats, lots of seats...

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The sharp eyed amongst you might notice that these seats are not perfectly smooth - if you had ever ridden in them for any legth of time you would have found that most of the seats were worn, sunken and grubby to say the least. So the Dremel came out and added a bit more realism to the seating.

Then there are the handrails and seatbacks. These were invariably shiny chrome, so this seems like an ideal opportunity to try out the Alcad I spent so much money on back in November at Telford. I must say they turned out quite nice...

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Finally for this update, progress on the driver's cab:

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I always remember sitting behind the driver, admiring the big red indicator switch. As a little boy what could be more exciting that a BIG RED SWITCH that worked the indicator lights!!!! Its almost as if the designers were tuned in to what would appeal to small boys and make them want to grow up to be bus drivers!!!

Now in a further departure from the normal Routemaster builds I've seen on the net, nice though they might have been, not a single sign of a passenger or more importantly the driver and conductor!!! Fear not, I aim to rectify that!

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A quick purchase of a group of resin 1/25 scale figures from Hong Kong will sort that out! The seated man whose originals arms were held in his lap almost as if he was in prayer has had them sanded off and another of the standing gent in a suit has sacrificed his arms to replace. These figures are rather tall so a bit of drastic surgery was required to get the driver to fit in the cab: the bend at the knee had to be increased and the legs shortened by a few millimeters, the torso had to have about 5mm cut out to bring it down to size and of course the arms have had to be remodelled:

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At this time, the uniform would have still been green, again I'm not sure of the exact colour so this is an approximation. IT also will mean having to scratch build the conductor's ticket machine, ie one of these:

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and here it is - although I'm afraid the flash has overexposed it

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its made from milliput and will have extra straps etc added along with a scratch built money pouch:

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That is the progress so far... I was intending to start doing the seat decals this evening, but well frankly I couldn't be arsed :)

I'll update further when there is something more to report...

Edited by Kallisti
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Wow Kallisti,

That's a cracking start. The photos show the area just how I remember it too. My Grandad worked in one of the factories for a time (in the 60's I think) but even I can remember the general coating of grey dust that covered everything along the Dartford - Gravesend road. I was lucky enough to visit the Lafarge Cement Works at Northfleet last year (the site where Top Gear helped drop a chimney on the reasonably priced car). It's amazing how contained the whole process is now.

For your decals, if you're using Photoshop, the correct typeface for the blinds and other standard text is available online.

I'm following your build with interest, especially as I've got one to do to.

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Excellent thank you Wagoneer, I've found a downloadable font for the Johnson typeface used by London Transport

Pleased to see so much interest in my little project :)

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Things have progressed so let me show you the driver in his cab:

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Still need to do a little bit of work on the right shoulder where the arm joins as this was left unattached until it was ready to fit otherwise I'd never have got his hands on the steering wheel! These figures do not have any real detail so the painting has been done to give it some highlights... and 70s sideburns! I'm wondering whether I shouldn't darken the skin tone of the bus conductor... ahem!

I'm having some issues with the colour call outs that Revell have been making as well as the way theylve moulded the inside of the window area. Now this photo matches what I remember:

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For a start, the Revell instructions claim that the colour of the window surrounds is dark grey when as you can see here its a sort of green colour - in fact I reckon Tamiys XF81 (RAF Green) is a reasonable match to this. Plus the moulding is just plain wrong... look here:

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I've dry fitted the outer wall to the lower deck and you can see that there are big gaps between each window wheras on the live photos these are solid, green and slush with the lower burgundy panels!

Well as you can see I've put my first row of seats in. All the seats have been "dimpled" painted and decaled and I've started matching them up to the chromed seat frame. I've also used the same XF81 green on the seat backs. I've mixed up a custom mix of Desert Yellow and flat yellow to do the inside celings with. This is matt to begin with but will be smoothed down and Kleared to get a gloss finish, along with appropriate weathering and washes to bring out the joint details.

I made my first attempt at spraying enamel paint through my secondary airbrush, but it turned into a right mess. I bought a tin of London Country Green pain from Cherry Paints, but it is enamel and I don't normally do enamels so it wasn't a great success. Instead, I brush painted a sample onto an old aerosol can lid so I can use it to colour match against some Tamiya acrylic paint.

As it turns out, XF 26 Deep Green is a pretty effective match, although of course it it matt instead of glass. However since I'm going to be doing a "weathered" bus with shade differences on the panels, dents and scratches means having an exact colour match is of lesser importance.

THings are coming along but its all a bit fragmented still - there are a lot of individual pieces being primed, sanded and sprayed and I'm sure things will start coming together properly soon... (I hope!)

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Nice work so far. I like that you're doing something different and adding people. I'm looking forward to following along.

Edited by louiex2
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  • 2 weeks later...

...and there's more...

Here you can see the lower deck with the focus on the end partition which has been suitably dirtied up and scratched, scuffed and dented. As kids we used to put our feet up on the front wall so thats how it got to be such a mess ;) You can also see the paint chipping on the gearbox cover under the heater outlet, plus the generally dirty state of the wooden slatted flooring.

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Next is the same lower deck but this time the focus is toward the rear and you can see the scraped differential cover and various ending strips

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The sats have also been dirtied up but its not obvious in the photos. next is the end panel which still has to have the window fitted

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This green is Tamiya XF 26 which I think is a very good match for a version of the London Country Green used int he early 70s. It isnt' a perfect match but then again this bus has been out in the sun, had cement dust all over it so the colour will vary. Check out the period photos I posted earlier and you'll see what I mean. I'm not a believer is getting the authentic colours EXACTLY right as they would only EVER be perfect right out from the factory. Sunlight and dirt will affect the colour as will the particular lighting conditions.

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The conductors cubby hole. I haven't put any signage in the panel yet, so the transparency hasn't been put on either. I'm almost tempted to leave it off as I remember the buses often had the glass missing and just a timetable sheet stuck up in place. Need to dirty up the luggage space as well - I mean REALLY dirty :)

Inside rear panel which has had a dark wash added to pick out the joint strips. I checked contemporary photos ans these were trhe same dark burgundy and not metalic like some of the others.

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The lower deck roof. This is a more yellowy colour than the instructions recommend because - well thats how I remember it and some of the photos show it. Other photos show white internal roof but I think those are the later reconditioned ones from the 90s where they put in fluorescent strips

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The lights have been given a silver outer ring with a matt white bulb. One thing that is missing on the kit is the string pull for the "ding ding" so that will HAVE to be added as that was one of the most fun things about the routemaster, being able to pull the string to make the bell go ding to get it to stop at your bus stop :) The roof also needs a wash to bring out the joint strips a bit better.

Finally the radiator grill has been replaced with photo-etch:

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I used Aber photoetch diamond mesh for the radiator grille which looked to be about the right density.

Ding ding move down the bus please there will be another along in a while...

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Well these buses were on the road in the late 60's and having rode on them they were still around for the two years I spent in that location,(gravesend).

Great work on the buses :winkgrin: .

Like the way you have done the seats,well all of it in fact.

Watching with Interest :thumbsup: .

Cheers foxy :coolio:

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If you're interested at this late stage, you can get the exact body colour from Precision paints - I think the one you want is Southdown green (plus some grime!)

Roy.

Edited by roymattblack
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I've got the London Country Green from Cherry Paints, but its enamel and I don't like spraying enamel, however XF 26 from Tamiya is a good match for the base colour and I'll just introduce some colour variation to depict the weathering.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Moving along from the last post, here we have the front of the bus painted and weathered...


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and the side view showing the driver's door. Its a shame they don't give you the option of having the driver's door open!


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Next is the dents I've added into the roof - particularly at the front!


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The purple is the masking fluid going on to help with the paint chipping and wear later. This amount of damage is not excessive, but usually found at the front, particularly on the kerb side from impacts with tree branches and so on.


The windows have been masked up to allow painting the opening mechanisms and frames:


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Lots of windows!!!


Finally in this update, I've been working on the figures that will populate the bus interior, so let us first start with the conductor:


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Here you see him with the first fittong of the belts for the ticket mahcine and change bag. These were all made from tamiya tape. The wide straps will be painted black and I'll be adding some silver clasps and hooks using some leftover cockpit PE from the spares box. I'm quite pleased with how the ticket machine came out. I salvaged some scraps from the spares box, including some old PE for the really small details.


The rest of the passengers are a motley assortment:


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The faces have received and initial oil wash, which will need some touching up to remove the various "black eyes" that some of them appear to have acquired! The shinyness is from the oil washes they've received after the matt paint had been applied. There are two versions of the same figure, but I'll put one upstiars and one downstairs to keep them apart so its less noticable. Pity there aren't any more sitting dwon figures in this collection. Personally I think the bloke in the hat is rather supicious, sitting with his hands in his pockets liek that with so many women around!!!
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Great work here. Really inspiring use of your imagination, adding the figures and the work on the driver and ticket machine, etc.

Love what you have done with the 'damage' as well.

Not a big bus fan as I never used them and have no fond memories (my family home was 200yds from the school gates) but really looking forward to seeing this finished.

Steve.

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Been a busy week so thought I'd take a few snaps to record the progress. Since I last posted, the lower desck has been completed, its roof added and the upper deck added. The figures have been finished and put in place. The wheels have also been attached and the underside weathered using washes and pigments. The underside of the rear deck has been extensively "muddied up has have the wheel arches.

I've built up a simple base using an old picture frame with plaster of paris infil, a layer of black emery paper to represent the tarmac road, some milliput to put kerbstones in and then black stained claycrete to represent the tarmac coated pavement. Some leaf litter and grasses have been added to give it a bit more life.

The outer panels have been primed, silvered, kleared, hairsprayed, overcoated and then distressed. They have now been assembled around the core and weathered some more.

Yet to do: windows need putting in and decals need sorting out. Having some issues witht he decals - the yellow text isn't thick enough to show up over the green paint. I'm goign to try again on the works colour printer on transparency mode to see if I can get it to lay down a thicker payer of ink.

So now for the photos - they were taken quickly so alignment is a bit out in a couple of them and the lighting a bit dodgy!

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This is a seriously dirty bus :)

I think I might have overdone the distressed paintwork on the upper deck panels, but the photos I found really do show the paintwork in as pitiful a condition!

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That's really rather well used, but it looks brilliant! Have you thought about using some white decal paper behind yours or even printing direct onto white? That would make the colours bright and opaque. If you did use white behind what you printed, trim it slightly smaller than the colour part so no white shows at the edges.

Wag.

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My initial reaction on the first picture was that it may be a bit overdone, but already when I had scrolled down to the last I had completely changed my mind. I think it looks great! :thumbsup2:

I'm not sure how you print your decals, but I maybe not with an Alps? If I print something like yellow text decals on clear paper to go on green I always print two in white and two in yellow (using thin film), but that requires an Alps of course. Not sure how to best do it otherwise.

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I don't have access to an Alps printer and I will be printing the large advert and black routing labels on white decal film, but the yellow "London Country" lables are the ones causing the problem which are too fiddly to print on white and trim round the letters. I'm going to try printing on the highest quality and on "transparency" mode which should lay down more ink than normal...

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