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Using Kestrel Kits on Dioramas

Model Bus Federation

CHRIS PEARSON of the Model Bus Federation shows us how he has used the Gaugemaster Kestrel N Scale Building kits in his dioramas.

During the early 1980s, the Manchester Area of the Model Bus Federation (MBF) started a local competition known as the 'Manchester 144 Diorama Competition', culminating in this becoming the 'Special Class' when the Area hosted the MBF National AGM in 1996. It has since become one of the regular classes at our National Show & AGM.

The Class has just two rules:

1. It must not exceed 144 square inches in size

2. It has to have a bus or coach on it.

Both scale and height are irreverent.

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

The completed diorama 'Two Into One Does Go'. Click the image to see a larger version.

144 square inches doesn't have to be 12 by 12. My dioramas are 16" by 9" and are made to fit inside a briefcase, hence the size. My first attempt was in 2013, 'A Bridge Two Far', and I did spell TWO correctly because it was 2mm (N Scale) and it had two bridges on it. It came second. At the 2017 AGM I won the competition with another N Scale diorama, 'Two Into One Does Go', a display that showed two streams merging into one.

On this display I had a modified Kestrel Designs church kit, making it low relief, but more about that later. I won again in 2018 with 'Crush Hour, another N Scale display that was more urban.

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

The completed diorama 'Two Into One Does Go'. Click the image to see a larger version.

The beauty with modelling in N Scale is you can get a lot more in the available space. This compares to most MBF members who model in OO Scale. One of the drawbacks though is the lack of low relief buildings, especially churches and small industrial buildings. Those that are available have limited appeal and use. Graham Farish does produce a range of ready-to-use low relief buildings, though this seems to be diminishing. Metcalfe Models also produce some low relief card kits, but they are not as easy to modify as plastic kits or even ready-made models, whereas the Kestrel Design does not produce any low relief kits at all, which leaves one to use your imagination to achieve their objective. Sometimes, that can be beneficial.

When I was planning my displays, I took a hard look at all the kits and models that were available to me. I am one of those people who doesn't like to use too many models 'straight out of the box' and if I can alter any, I will. Modifying a model creates interest, curiosity and uniqueness to the modeller, and especially to the viewer if the display is exhibited.

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

Close up of the low relief church on 'Two Into One Does Go'.

On 'Two Into One Does Go', the Kestrel GMKD04 Church kit was cut exactly in half lengthwise to make two low relief buildings, both shown in stages of modification. Pieces of square rod were glued to the rear corners and along the base of each building before pieces of black plastic card were glued in place for the back walls. This was not only to give strength, but to give them more contact area when stuck to the backscene. One low relief church has yet to be used.

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

The modified church.

I did likewise with two GMKD27 Kestrel Design Town House kits - cutting the gable end walls, chimney side walls and tops in half, using square rod in all the outer corners and black plastic card for the back wall, making the two kits half as deep but four times as long overall, as shown on 'Crush Hour'.

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

The Kestrel Town House kit being modified. Two kits were used on the diorama.

The advantage with this kit is the front and back walls are identical, thus giving the terrace the look of a long row of houses. In most other cases, the buildings used were those as bought. If you have the time and patience, it is amazing what can be achieved if one uses their imagination and the results can be very rewarding.

Kestrel N Scale Building Kits

A close up of 'Crush Hour'. The GMKD39 Modern Industrial Unit kit has also been used on this layout.

The Model Bus Federation was formed in 1968, with 2018 being our 50th Anniversary year. Members receive a high-quality full colour monthly Journal, access to a great online Forum (which acts as a model bus encyclopedia), the chance to attend local meetings and national events, enter competitions and purchase member-only models/spares via the excellent MBF Shop. The MBF is very active on Facebook, with its own Group - Model Bus and Coach. If you would like to find out more about joining, visit and follow the links.

CLICK HERE to view the full Kestrel Building Kit range

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