A Pendon visit

At least the kids managed to do a bit of modelling today, courtesy of the Pendon ‘drop in’ holiday modelling sessions…



A quick repaint…

I’ve not made much modelling progress of late, partly due to lots of work travel, but mainly due to over-committing myself to too many home, club, and 12″-foot projects… and here is one of them, a quick repaint of a small prairie over the past week at Didcot Railway Centre.  The paint on 5572 has badly failed, and needs a repaint.  The “Non-ops” group at Didcot have spent the last week rubbing down, touching in, and glossing up.  Top coats in the next few days should see the green finished — today’s ‘malachite’ is just the undercoat 🙂

Now I just need to finish off some club projects (signals and turntable control) through and get on with some actual modelling…


Scenic practice

I’ve been doing a fair bit of work on the club layout lately. Along with making the signals (more on that later), I seem to have ended up doing the scenics too.  Given that my previous scenic ‘CV’ only extends to arranging some plastic fir trees around a papier mâché shoe-box tunnel, I thought I should perhaps practice a bit first…

So I’ve started a little diorama (60x40cm) using the same techniques as already employed on the main layout. First I butchered an old layout top to make a plywood frame for a single line cutting through a sloping hill side. The idea was to have ~half cutting and ~half embankment. I forgot the height of the track bed though, so it’s more embankment than cutting!


Basic diorama formers

I painted the frame white for some protection, and to see/fill the holes and dents in the old ply more easily. Then I added the basic land forms from chicken wire, mod-roc, and plaster skim (mixed with brown paint and PVA).  The plaster skim is also added underneath, which forms a nice hard shell.  This is the basic state the club layout is in already (plus track work of course). From here, I’m into terra incognita…


Evolution of the landscape

I’m not sure I’d use this technique again — the chicken wire is simply painful to put on, and I don’t think gives that much subtlety to the landscape. Next step is to put the track base down, then do the cess before laying and ballasting the track. The intention here is to go for a fairly well maintained single line from the 1930s…

Off on holiday next week, but a club mate has lent me this estimable tome. Looking forward to getting learnt about modern scenics 🙂


Holiday reading…

Mittwoch Mockup

Since joining the local model railway club (www.admrc.org.uk) a year or so ago, I’ve been helping out with their “Pentre Road” layout, which is based on the North-and-West route through Herefordshire.   Latest thing to worry about has been exit stage right, for which I’ve found a nice road overbridge just south of the Dinmore tunnels. (see here; http://www.archive-images.co.uk/gallery/Archive-Colour-Images-of-the-Railways-of-Herefords/image/108/Dinmore_Tunnel_South_End_c1964 – though oddly flipped left-right).

Below is a quick mock-up made from a pair of scalescenes kits I already had; the brick bridge download (R011) for the main dimensions, and an ashlar retaining wall (R013) for the overlays; modified to give the steeply descending road and slightly skew bridge. I think the final one will be in plasticard, as I do think ashlar/rubble type structure need the 3d relief that textures don’t give.  It’s not the neatest of builds, but will do for now and provide a reference to build the landforms up.


Mock-up based on overbridge just south of Dinmore tunnel

Little big trains

Had a very wet, but very fun, day down at the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch railway last weekend. The engineering on the 1/3rd scale engines is simply beautiful.


There is also a nice model railway exhibition at Romney station, from which we came away with a very clean – and very competitively priced – Mainline J72 (original Mainline). It needs couplings fitted, and who knows how long the axles will last, but it should be very happy chuntering round the kids layout 🙂



Been rather distracted from Junction Dock for the past few months. The kids (yes, definitely the kids, for sure it was the kids) wanted a roundy-round to whizz trains around. I made a simple loop on a pair of old doors last year, but time came to make something a bit more involved for them. The baseboard only measures 5×4′, made up from two old blockboard doors.  I can really only fit a single loop using 2nd radius curves into the space.

The plan uses the classic two-sided approach; a station + small yard (roughly based on Rannoch station) on one side, and a shed (roughly based on Kyle of Lochalsh) on the other.   I’ve always liked the west highland 🙂 The two sides are split by a bridge and – utterly fundamental – a tunnel.  The road up the middle of the layout will run up a hill, providing some kind of separation between the sides.  There are no passing loops or storage sidings — but it’s a rather small space!


Kinlochmahen – 5×4′ loop vaugely inspired by Rannoch station and Kyle of Lochalsh shed…

Hopefully there wil be enough interest in the track plan for a combination of whizzing trains round, changing over engines, and doing a bit of shunting. The 4 year old is already surprisingly competent at shunting…

The track is code-100 peco + insulfrog points recovered from a old layout. I took the precaution of wiring them for psuedo-live-frog operation if the switch blades start giving trouble. Operation though will just be by the slide bar on the points. Each section of track has dropper wires attached, which will hopefully make the electrics more reliable…


Insulfrog->electrofrog enabling works, just in case…

I put a layer of ‘fab foam’ (~2mm thick high density foam) under the track bed — but this didn’t seem to make much difference to the sound insulation properties. I thought with a 1″ thick board, it should be OK — but it seems not. Mind you – there is a very noticable difference between my newer locos and the 30+ year old lima deltic doing most of the work! The kids don’t mind the noise at least! The track was layed down on a bed of PVA (also tried copydex, with little difference), and ballasted at the same time (ala Soloman/Norman).  It at least gives an indication of a ballast shoulder, and is a heck of a lot quicker than applying the ballast afterwards.  I think though it doesn’t really give a deep enough ballast for the thick peco sleepers. The track was sprayed with Humbrol earth brown (#29) before laying. It needs a bit more finishing now it’s down.

Track across the baseboard joints was soldered to brass screws and then cut through. Below you can see the finished ‘main’ and yard, though the shed roads still need to be laid. It’s nice to have the layout at least to the stage where we can whizz old trains round using an old Hornby controller. Next job is to finish off the control panel before starting to build up the main scenics. Kids looking forward to the messy bits I think 🙂







True scale

When you need 5/8″ BSW bolts, it’s probably not a model…  Spent today crawling around the front of 6023 (King Edward II) bolting on various bits as she warmed up. Ready for some tests runs later in the afternoon, she looked great thumping up and down the demonstration line at Didcot – and there was even room on the footplate for a few guests 🙂


6023 ready to face the world


Fiat Lux

God apparently did it on the first day; it took me 18 months of procrastination — but Junction Dock has some lighting at last.  The main driver of course being the need to weather/colour the buildings under the right lighting.

A double strip of SMD2835 “day white” LEDs are mounted on a strip of wood, itself mounted at 45 degrees to the inner corner of the fascia/roof board. The self-adhesive LED strips are just stuck to the board; but can be mechanically fixed (i.e. zip ties) to the wood if/when the glue starts to fail.  I’ve also left a space up the middle for an RGB strip, if I feel I need to play with the colour balance.


Lighting board with two meters of daylight white SMD2835 LEDs installed

The package (from Ustellar on Amazon) includes a power supply and dimmer. ~50% power seems to be OK to light the layout, so some capacity if I feel it needs to be brighter. I’ve only used 2m of the 5m strip, and I think I might use another meter mounted along the back to ‘flood’ the backscence — the image below shows the shadow of the room lights across the backscene. The beginnings of the kids’ layout lies in front…



A messy Junction Dock under it’s own lighting…

Slated for completion…

The roof(s) for the first building on Junction Dock have taken several months of occasional evenings – but are now pretty much done. I did want to emulate the rather rough ‘Scottish slates’ often found in the area. I’m not sure I managed that really, but I’m fairly pleased with the end result anyway.

The slates are made from 80gsm paper, painted with a grey mix of emulsion and acrylic paint, before being ‘nicked’ every 4mm and cut into strips. This gave a nice subtle variation to the slate colours, as well as some light relief to the surface. The strips were then stuck onto a card sub-roof with either spraymount (easy and clean, but more prone to lifting during weathering) or dilute PVA (a bit messier/slower, but STUCK). For future, I’ll be using the PVA approach, as not much looks worse than a bubbly roof.


Paper slates weathered. The camera close-up is a cruel mistress.

Once stuck on, the roof is given a light weathering/colouring with artists acrylics. Having spent the last few months obsessively looking at slate roofs, I’m surprised by the amount and strength of ‘weathering’ in the prototype. I’ve stuck to a bit of yellow-green lichen at the top, with darker streaks at random down the roof. The occassional purple patch happens too — no idea what causes that in real life!?! You can compared the effect of the weathering in the photo below.

The flashing is from the scalescenes range. Gutters and down-pipes (aka rones in Scotland) still to add.  However, three pitched roofs mostly done, and only another two (much bigger!) ones to go for the layout.


Goods shed and office for the right-hand-side of the layout

The building overall still needs a bit of work. The ‘office’ on the right needs door handles, a light, and most critically an improved main window — not to mention chimney pots on top of the stacks!  I used the ‘scene setters’ glazing bars for the three narrow windows. I was very impressed with the effect — but it does rather show up my home-made efforts on the main window. So that now needs replacing before I stick the front panel on. The roof still isn’t weathered or stuck down either. The goods shed itself still needs a door, some weathering, and some indication that another shed was once attached to the front — some aged timber ‘joists’ perhaps.  The rather odd shape at the back is where the back-scence cuts through the building. Hoping it won’t look too weird when done!

Might be a while before I get round to that though, as I have a bunch of signals due for the club layout, and the kids want a roundy-round working. Decidely not finescale, but distinctly fun 🙂

So first building slated — but completion, who knows when!?