Wordless Wednesday

Works in progress


The Ascent of Van…



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 :-\

A quick brake (sic)

Between club model projects, preserved railway projects, house projects, work projects, and of course two young children, there is not much of my own modelling going on at the minute. I felt the need to do something though, so I’ve spent an evening or two playing with wagon kits.  That fairly quickly led down the rabbit hole of brake gear. A few books later, and last night’s attempt was at a simplified Rice-style LNER AVB rigging. 0.7mm rod to represent the brake linkages, and 1mm rod for the cross-link. Attachment to the plastic brake gear is a combo of melting in and epoxy.  It’s far from perfect, but fairly happy for a first attempt. The enlightened will notice the main link is the wrong way round though…

Second picture reveals a disturbing non-squareness in the wheel sets :-\ Maybe I need to put the compensating W-irons in after all…

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 🙂