The Pigeon loft
by Karen Rychlewski

Up | Chez Karen Rychlewski | Gallery | Home

Communications during WWI was still in the dark ages and carrier pigeons were frequently used. When I found a kit of the old Airfix London bus a few years ago, I got intrigued by the image of a traveling pigeon loft.

So here's the first shots of the bus-in-progress: the chassis and lower deck are pretty much done and ready for primer coat except for the pieces which I would knock off a dozen times if I put them on now. I resisted the temptation to fully detail the engine and underside but did spruce up and 'complete' some kit parts which were only half there. Since the 'cockpit' of this rattletrap will be fully visible, I spent considerable time detailing it based on the photos of 'Old Bill' taken at the IWM in London by Knut Erik. See Photo Archives.

Feb 26, 04

All of the kit parts are molded in marashino cherry red so anything that isn't red is scratched from bits and pieces of styrene, wire of various sorts, PE fiddly bits, and paper. The interior of the lower deck will be an office/storage/napping space and the upper deck, of course, is where the pigeons live. The diorama will include three figures: driver, signal corpsman, and courier with a bicycle. Having lots of fun with it so far...

Mar 30, 04

Aug 20, 06

In November '04 I visited the Imperial War Museum in London and took heaps of photos of their preserved 'B' Type bus, especially of the underside. Other projects put the bus on hold but I returned to it in the winter of '05, adding bit'n'pieces to the underside and chassis and completely reworking the rear axle. I was able to figure out the mechanical braking system and all its rods, levers, turnbuckles, etc. were scratchbuilt along with the brake drums for the rear wheels. A bit of painting and some preliminary weathering and the underside was essentially done.

At this point, three of the four sides of the cabin and the rear deck were assembled and painted, which than gave me the opportunity to start adding 'stuff' to the cabin. I raided my stash of aftermarket resin and white metal parts and scratchbuilt a number of other items to furnish the interior. The aerial photos, map, personal photo, forms (hey, it's the military,ya gotta have forms!) and the famous recruiting poster of Lord Kitchner were done by scanning the appropriate photos in various books and printing the miniature versions on paper on my inkjet printer; they were then glued or 'nailed' to the inside surfaces. The entire interior was painted by brush and 'distressed' with powders, washes, and scraping. I had great fun doing this part of the build.
The last major kit parts to be used and modified were those for the rear steps; because they stick up beyond the cabin ceiling, I left them until the rest of the cabin was finished so as not to be knocking them off a dozen times. The steps themselves and the two side supports were used basically OOB except for significant thinning of the supports. The railing and its three barriers were rebuilt with brass rod for the railing and posts and sheet styrene for the band connecting the barriers. And it's all held together with CA and Tenax.
Then all of the leftover detailing was done: the headlights and sidelights were attached and wired; steering wheel, brake and gearshift levers put in place; cab tarp draped over the horn and steering wheel supports; 4 vent windows and two cabin windows installed; wiring completed on the cab wall and sliding window installed; and now the entire 'downstairs' is finished except for a few fiddly bits: the footstep and engine crank. Painting and weathering was done along the way at appropriate times; I used the photo at the top of this page as my 'profile' because I liked the attempt at camouflage better than solid colors. It's certain that most of the 'B' Type vehicles were repainted in military colors after arrival in France and I tried to replicate the 'casual' brush-painted appearance of the exterior.

Up | Chez Karen Rychlewski | Gallery | Home