T*tsup Thursday

The wagon I started painting red before applying a PO livery


The wagon I meant to start painting red before applying a PO livery


Got confused between my Parkside 12 ton mineral kits 😦  Top one is PC69 (end door and angle iron end stays) and was meant to represent an well weathered LMS wagon. Bottom one is PC73 (fixed ends, side door only) and needs to be private owner.

I think it would take too many coats to get back to the bare wood effect, so I’m currently debating whether just to buy another PC69 kit, or to set about it with paint stripper — which will probably result in me having to buy another PC69 kit…


2mm diorama

A whole year ago, I bought the little 2mm association ‘sampler kit’ of a 16 ton mineral wagon and some track. For £8.50, this is a brilliant way to try out a new scale.  I decided the best way to exploit this would be to build a little diorama. The kit only comes with 6 inches of track, so that limited options a bit! After looking around for some inspiration, I found an interesting corner of the Lasswade goods yard in on my favoured Esk valley branch lines. Here the track to the goods shed runs at a lower level behind the platform, giving a nice contained scene.


The basic 2mm 16 ton kit before painting

I built the wagon first. I’ve never built an etched chassis before, but this seemed to go together fairly smoothly – though I still have to work out how to do the coupling hooks properly…  The close up photos are cruel on the detail level, but in real life it looks great of course. The wheelbase here is of course only 18mm! Painting followed the Martyn Welsh method for steel wagons; a rusty undercoat of brown, orange, and talc, followed by spots of maskol and a covering of grey top coat. Once that is dry, the top coat is picked/rubbed back to reveal rusty patches.  First time I’ve tried the technique, and I can see it being very effective in 4-7mm scale. In 2mm, I think the talc adds a bit too much texture – but again it’s good from ‘normal’ distance.  Transfers for lines and numbers were added from the Cambridge Custom Transfers range. I’ve not weathered these in much, as in many of the prototype photos the lines/numbers seem pretty clear even if the paint underneath is heavily corroded. Presumably the key information was repainted more regularly!


A simple diorama based on a corner of Lasswade goods yard

The diorama itself is built on an offcut of MDF. I built up the platform (at the back) from foamboard, glued the 6″ of track down, and covered the lot in DAS modelling clay.  I was worried this had completely ruined the track, but after quite a bit of poking, prodding, and cleaning with a fibre brush, the painted & weathered result does look quite like yard ash ballast.

The goods shed is only roughly based on Lasswade.  The carcass of the shed is just greyboard, covered in slaters embossed plasticard. I happened to have some 2mm ‘rough stone’ (bought in error), which seems typical of stations a bit further into the Scottish borders. The door is scribed into some plain 20thou sheet.  The pitched roof, very typical of Scottish railways, is a bit too steep (40 degrees) – but I didn’t want to make it again! It’s just made out of cereal box card, covered with strips 80 gsm paper nicked to represent the slates. Unlike my 4mm buildings I painted the slates after fitting – which was much easier!


Building up the fence from 10x40thou microstrip

The fence behind the platform, at the top of the slope, was build from lots of short strips of 10x40thou microstrip. The ‘verticals’ were assembled on some (detacked) double sided sticky tape before the ‘horizontals’ (I’m sure there is a proper name!) were bonded on.  Once assembled the whole lot was painted with enamels in a mix of browns and greys.  The other side is painted in an LNER cream colour. The posts plant into small holes in the foamboard.

I covered the slope in 2mm static grass, with a bit of 6mm added in for variety. I wanted to keep the feel of thin straggly grass you get in that sort of area. I think it’s worked OK, but perhaps needs a bit more variety in shades.  The grass was covered in sieved earth to knock the shine off.


Almost the end on view which inspired the whole idea!

Overall I’m pretty happy with how this has turned out. There is a bit more to add; some junk in the yard, and some details on the platform. I really want to get a figure leaning against the fence reading a paper, but I haven’t seen anything appropriate yet.

Most of all though, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed building this! It’s not been quick (I never claimed I was!). I’ve been pootling away at it since September.  I think the kit achieved it’s aim, and I’m definitely interested in doing some more 2mm modelling in the future. I think though another small diorama type scene with my 4mm stock beckons first…

Where in the world?

Some might have heard of “What Three Words” lately — a way of identifying your global location to within 3m by three random words — a kind of latitude and longitude for the cartographically challenged.

So I wondered if “Two.Bolt.Chair” existed (it does! mostly), and where it is? …  It turns out to be a non-descript bit of scrub/bog in Northern Ontario, Canada…  Oh well, I guess Old Oak Common was too hopeful! I should be 70% grateful it wasn’t just in the ocean…

Something finally done!

I’ve finally managed to get a project done and off the workbench! I’ve been not working much on an overbridge for the club layout for the past 18 months. As the base scenery has now reached the bridge location, I had to push on…  I made a card+paper mock-up last year, which showed the final bridge needed to be wider and flatter (it’s on a skew and an angle, of course). It is based – roughly – on this prototype at Dinmore tunnel;  http://www.archive-images.co.uk/gallery/Archive-Colour-Images-of-the-Railways-of-Herefords/image/108/Dinmore_Tunnel_South_End_c1964


Card mock-up of the bridge covering exit-stage-right on Pentre Road

The final version was built around a grey-board core, covered in embossed stone plasticard. The arches were cut and scribed from plain plasticard (and the judiciously filled around the edges!).  The raised course (at road level) was made from a section of 60thou strip, with some embossed plasticard carefully stuck on top. In future I’d just scribe into the strip.


Assembled and covered bridge before painting

The bridge was primed and painted with a mix of humbrol enamels. I almost bollocked the whole lot up using an acrylic wash to do the render lines (it’s worked on other models!).  A fairly heavy over-brushing with more enamels recovered it though.  The base colour is Humbrol 250 (a vaguely sandy colour I had it in stock), with individual stones picked out in lighter and darker shades. A grubby drybrush all over added a bit more life.

And here it is installed on the layout this evening:


Installed on the layout. More work to do to bed it in, particularly the roadways!

Fortunately the prototype did it’s job of ensuring the running clearance — a King at full chat passes without scratching it’s outside cylinders (just!).

More work to do on the surrounding land to make it match in properly. I’ll probably also go at it with some powders once it’s set in, but for now I’m at least feeling happy to get something off the bench and onto the layout!  Now, I’m sure I put a box full of signals somewhere….

(Very) South Western

Work travels have pretty much put paid to any modelling over the past few months, but not entirely to trains 🙂   For the last few weeks I’ve been in Chile for work.  Chile has a long history of railways (Ferrocarriles), and being basically the shape of a railway line, you’d expect it to be ideally suited to them.  Alas various social/political/financial changes over the last 60 years have seen their decline, and only a shadow the former network(s) remain.

There is a small museum of old Chilean engines in Santiago, and for 1000CHP (~£1.30) it’s a fun hour wandering around.  There are no operational engines, but the external static displays are kept in reasonable condition; probably helped by the favourable Chilean weather. The explanations are mainly in dual Spanish and English — I fear they know their market, and our national reputation for liking all things train precedes us!


Baldwin 4-6-0 #211 from 1896.

Most of the engines are of American pedigree, with a few British and German engines in the mix.  Chile has/had a mix of gauges : 1m gauge in the North, and 5’6″ (“Indian”) broad gauge in the South.  First engine on the scene is a lovely broad gauge goods engine from 1896. Note the flangeless centre drivers, which seem to be quite common on Chilean engines. It’s positioned over a full depth pit, so you can get under and see the interesting bits.


Underneath #211. Big vacuum cylinder up front, with inside Stephenson valve gear on the rear axle. The ashpan dampers still work 🙂

Some of the Southern express engines were monsters… This one needed a mechanical stoker as the fireman couldn’t keep up with the 120lb/mile firing rates! (for comparison, a Gresley Pacific needed ~55-60lb/mile, and a GWR Castle about 45-50lb/mile).


ALCO 4-8-2 engine #1110 from 1940

One of the more ‘challenging’ routes in Chile was the trans-Andean railway to Mendoza in Argentina. It was powered by Leeds-built Kitson-Meyer 0-8-6-0 tanks, which climbed to a summit tunnel at over 3000m using adhesion, supplemented with rack-and-pinion for the steeper sections (up-to 1:13!).  The route operated until 1984, though not with steam.


Kitson-Meyer 0-8-6-0T mountain climber. FCTC stands for “Ferrocarril Trans Cordillera” I think.

In the South of Chile, there were many narrow-gauge branches off the main spine route.  One of them still exists as the Temuco-Constitution route — it’s worth the one way trip, but get the bus back!  I can’t imagine this little 2ft gauge engine made great time either, but it is very cute!


600mm (2ft) gauge engine from Southern Chile.

All in all, a nice little museum.  The trip rather bizarrely culminated in having to explain the workings of the engine in dual Spanish/English whilst someone recorded me for their online class… Fortunately it didn’t have to be much more detailed than “Aqui se ponen el carbon” (“they put the coal in here”)…  In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king indeed…


Signal Box …

…No… a Box for Signals…  (The never used part of the ‘four candles’ sketch perhaps?)

I have for a while been avoiding finishing off the set of signals I’m making for a club layout.  Having sat neglected and dusty in various states of completion behind a layout in the garage, I thought I’d better make something to protect them before doing more work.  So I’ve made a simple hinged frame which sits inside a ‘really useful box’. The signals locate through 20mm holes (to take the mounts for the servo drives), and are retained by magnets as they will be on the layout.  The whole frame hinges up for access, and when it’s down the wood is the right height to be retained by the lid of the box.  Magnets also help retain it in the up or down position.

It’s not going to win any awards for fine woodworking, but it does seem to work so far… Now I just need to find time to push on with the signals themselves! The one of the right is only finished one, and even that doesn’t have the servo drive connected yet…


This month I have mostly been playing with sculptamold… and I quite like it!  For those who might not know, this is a mixture of plaster and mashed up bog roll. You mix it with a bit of water to ‘cottage cheese’ consistency, and apply it over the land forms to give a nice solid and fairly light top coat.

For the roughly West Highland feel of the kids’ layout, I’ve build up a ridge of hills from solid foam insulation, inset a cardboard road base, and then covered the foam in sculptamold.  The foam carves quite well with the nice new kitchen knife we got free with some pans… (fortunately I have a bench grinder to fix the knife afterwards…)


Basic landforms in insulation foam. Station will be in the foreground.

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First covering of sculptamold on the embankment behind the goods yard.  Extra foam packing behind the bridge wing walls.

The sculptamold is very easy to apply, though in my cold/damp garage it took several days to dry instead of the advertised ’30 minutes’…  Still, that gave lots of time to smooth out paths, and subtly carve in small rock faces etc.  Once dry,  it’s painted with a generic brown colour (from the ‘reduced’ shelf of B&Q!).  I may redo this step with some added earth scatter to add some micro-roughness before grassing.


The boy child gets painting…


Painted sculptamold next to the overbridge.

Overall, pretty impressed with the sculptamold.  I bought 3lbs of the stuff from Amazon for about £11 – relative expensive per unit volume, but I don’t need very much for the kids’ layout, so not worth the hassle of trying to home brew an alternative.  I think I will need about 6lbs to cover the ~5x4ft area of this little layout (with lots of hills).

Nice to feel I’m progressing with something at least, though I do also have a slowly lengthening line of wagons to go into the paint shop at some point.

New year, new scale?

Got a bit clicky on Hogmanay and ended up on the 2mmFS association website.  Might have been the whisky thinking, but three days later this turned up.


What a fantastic idea!  A complete ‘amuse-bouche’ of 2mm parts to try out.  Being able to buy some bits without being a member is a brilliant way to attract new people into a new scale — well done 2mmAssoc!  Here’s the link to the kit.  Who knows, perhaps I’ll start pipe-dreaming of a 2mm layout next (what a lie!  My pipe is already stuffed full of 2mm concepts!)

Looking forward putting this together, once I’ve finished off some of those chunky 4mm lumps currently in progress…

Junction Dock 2018

Well 2018 was a very quiet year for Junction Dock – I did precisely nothing! No, sorry, I take that back – I fitted one piece of ~A4 card to complete the curved back scene in, I think, April… Club commitments, and 12-inch-foot commitments, mean I’ve not done much ‘home modelling’ this year. I have had fun with a few wagon kits though, so I thought I’d round out the year by posing them in front of the half-finished ‘goods shed’ on Junction dock.

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LNER Fruit, GWR V16, LNER 5-plank, LMS 3-plank – in various states of not-quite-finishedness

Pushing the wagons about was useful – the trackwork is simply not good enough. I have serious gauge narrowing at the tips of the point blades (all hand filed, probably not finely enough, and with not enough set), there are steps between sections which are very noticeable (not sure why — to few sleepers perhaps?), and the turnout mechanisms aren’t positive enough. This is the real reason I’ve not done anything on the layout for a while – the fear that the fundamentals are not quite good enough… That and the terror at trying to cover the entire lot in scribed DAS setts!

My initial idea – misguided I now realised – was that I could mask my first attempt at trackwork in setts. The ugly soldering, lack of chairs, mis-shapen sleepers etc would all be hidden. Of course the opposite is true – if you’re going to encase your trackwork in clay, you’d better be damned sure it is up to snuff first! So I think Junction Dock needs some serious rework on the fundamentals. A shift of EM is appealing, given I feel I’m unlikely ever to have/want a big empire populated by a stable of RTR stock. Perhaps after a year dormant the project should be marked ‘DNR’ and I should consider something more classical?  I have a few ideas of things I’d like to do, but don’t want to just flit around.

The good news from 10 minutes of pushing wagons is that I do still like the concept of the layout, and can see what I want. So perhaps it is not DNR but WIFLI – When I Feel Like It! After all, the rest of life is stressful enough there really is no point getting worried about a lack of progress with little trains :-\