Wednesday, 21 September 2016

It's slowly coming together

The cottage and barn are almost finished but I've still to decide on the cottage garden. Is it to be a pretty cottage garden or more of a plain garden suitable for a working farm cottage?  At the moment I'm thinking more towards the latter.

I've also been trying to get the right finish for the hard standing around the wharf sidings. I've only seen one picture in colour of one wharf, the rest have been black and white. All pictures give the impression that the ground cover was compacted earth while the colour photo indicates a light brown colour. Getting an acceptable texture and colour has proved to be a bit tricky. After deciding on using Gordon Gravett's method for the road surface I thought I'd continue the theme and use his method for the ground cover.  I spent some time trialling different mixes of Humbrol Gloss paint, 40 (Pale Grey), 10 (Service Brown) & 6 (Tan) covered in Talcum Powder. Once I'd decided on a mix I had great difficulty in reproducing the trials on the layout. The results were awful, possibly due to the trials being on plasticard but on the layout I was applying the paint to DAS.  More trials continued using DAS as a base, but again when applied to the layout I was still not getting the correct finish. Hmmm... back to the drawing board...

So a change of tack was required, I thought about treating the hard standing like ballasting track. A little research on the web threw up Polak's ballast dust. I quickly purchased three different colours, with the view to mixing them together in different proportions to acheive the desired colour. Again, after I'd finally decided on what I thought was the correct colouring, when applying the mixture to the layout it looked different. It doesn't look too bad but not totally what I was aiming for, texture good colouring not quite right, a little too brown not enough grey I feel.

I think it is time to move on and come back to this once more scenic work has been completed. It will probably look different when all the grass, weeds, trees & bushes have been added.

Monday, 19 September 2016

How close can trees be to the track bed?

I've had more than one comment that the two skeleton trees seen in my previous post are too close to the track bed. I agree. In what might be deemed to be normal circumstances both trees are too close, but on this line there was more than one instance of trees being very close to the track bed. Maybe what makes the trees look closer than they will be when finished is they're not fixed, and one is leaning at jaunty angle towards the track.

I have a number of photos of this line and I am indebted to Chris Knowles-Thomas who took all the photographs below in July 1964.

The tree in the distance looks really close to the track bed.
I feel that the feature of trees being so close to the track bed helps to mark this line out to be a little different to most. From the start of building this "test plank" it has been my intenstion to somehow include some trees close to the track. The problem has been how many and where to place them on the layout without affecting the operation when using three link couplings....

Monday, 29 August 2016


I managed to spend a few hours working on the layout this weekend and started by adding more DAS modelling clay for the base of the Cornish Hedges that border the Wharf sidings. This led onto thinking about how to represent the lane that crosses the track and I then plucked up courage to start laying down the hard standing around the Wharf sidings again using DAS.

After trialling a couple of solutions I've decided to follow Gordon Gravett's technique for the lane. This is using plasticard for the base, painted with gloss enamel paint followed by a sprinkling of Talcum Powder.

 So far I've only installed the plasticard base and may run a few more tests to find the best combination of paint colour and amount of Talcum Powder to use.

I've also spent a little time mulling over the position of two large trees. One feature of this line is that there are a number of large trees that were allowed to grow very close to the track. I want to add this feature to the layout. The problem I face is positioning the trees without them getting in the way of uncoupling wagons when using three link couplings. The two skeleton trees in the photo have been temporarlity positioned in what I think is the best position. I'll make the final decision after a few running sessions and once I've added more scenic detail.

There's still much to do to get the picture right but I feel like I've made some good progress.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

RailWells 2016

We arrived home last night after a few days down in Wells. This was our first visit to Wells and also my first vist to Railwells. Late on Saturday we arrived at our hotel, The Old Gatehouse, and after booking in we walked out of the back door of the hotel onto Cathedral Green to find the view below.

Wells Cathedral
What more could you ask for?... After a long drive, with drinks in hand, sitting with my lovely wife, admiring the changing colours on the west face of the cathedral during sunset... perfect...

Next day (Sunday) my wife was more that happy to have a wander around the city while I ventured into the Town Hall for RailWells.

There was a definite Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway theme going on due to its closure 50 years ago. Layouts that took my attention were...

Cheddar S.& D.J.R. (P4)
Cheddar S.& D.J.R. (P4)
Cheddar S.& D.J.R. (P4)
Along with the whole look and feel of the Cheddar I liked the little stories applied by Simon Challis to the cameos of figures on the layout. Above shows one of several little cameos with a discription on the facia of the layout, others include a nurse and baker on their rounds...

New Mere is fictional layout sited a what might have been Wincanton-Warminster branch of the S.& D.J.R...

New Mere station S.& D.J.R. (P4)

Overal view of New Mere S.& D.J.R. (P4)
A nice depiction of Ivo Peters, wife and Bentley overlooking New Mere station

A slightly smaller layout was Chewton Mendip on a fictional branch line to Priddy.

Chewton Mendip S.& D.J.R. (EM)
I met Gordon (our North Lincs Scalefour group leader) at the show and we had a good chat with Tim Tincknell regarding couplings, the merits of EM and P4 along with the sector plate on his Chewton Mendip layout.

Angelbank was one of a few non S.&D.J.R. layouts. It is an EM gauge layout based in Shopshire around Ludlow and I found it interesting due to the working quarry incline...

Angelbank (EM)
Angelbank (EM)
I also thought the bare trees, closed signal box and slighly delapidated loco shed on Angelbank added a nice rundown atmosphere especially as most of use try to depict the opposite.

There were other fine layouts in 2mm Finescale, P4, EM, OO and O along with good trade support. One new trader that I made a purchase from was Attwood Aggregates from Devon who supply stone ballast for N to O scales. All ballest is sourced from six different West Country quarries, one of which is Meldon Quarry. I thought a bag of very fine roadstone and china clay might come in useful...

Overall an excellent day. After the show my wife and I stayed on in Wells for a couple of days to explore and enjoy this unique city. Next year Railwells 40 is planned to be a very speical show, so I need to have a chat with the boss to see if we can do the same again.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Progress on the Barn

I've been using the following photograph as a colour guide for the stone work on the barn. It was taken a few years ago when I was in Cornwall and shows the wall opposite the cottage next to the old track bed at Helland Bridge.

My interpretation below...

After my attempts at representing weathered wood on wagons, I felt I could attempt the barn doors. A different combination of colours was used than those applied to the wagons. This time I started off with a light grey base coat then built up the colours by dry brushing dark grey, followed by Lifecolor's Dark Shade and a few strokes of Bestial Brown.

There is still the roof to get to grips with, along with a little more weathering and tidying up of the rendered walls. I'd also like to add some moss to the roof but at the moment not sure how best to do this?

Friday, 12 August 2016

Weathered wood (Part 3)

With the repainting of the 7 plank progressing more to the warm dark shades of browns, I thought I'd try a different approach with the Bachmann 5 plank wagon. Below is the start of the process...

On this wagon I thougth I'd start with a light base coat so applied Lifecolor's Cool Base. You can see on the right od the wagon the start of dry brushing some light grey over the base coat to try to acheive a sun bleached effect. Unfortunately after further dry brushing of a darker grey, along with good old Bestial Brown from Citadel followed by a few strokes of Lifecolor's Dark Shade the result is again not totally what I'm after.

Further work is required on the internal woodwork of the above Bachmann wagon and I've only worked on one external side. Not sure if I have the courage to apply some light stokes of a silvery grey over the wagons current state but I think that is what it needs...

Below is a further photo of the current state of the revamped 7 plank. I think this one will eventually need more black (coal dust) washed over the sides as I'm not really happy with the way it's turning out.

Both wagons require numbering, then once I've added the brake gear, axles boxes and springs to the 7 plank, some delicate weathering will be applied to the sides and running gear.

Well... I'm still not quite achieving the results I'm after with these wagons but nonetheless I am enjoying the process.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Weathered Wood (Part 2)

Well the attempt at creating a bare wood effect on the old wagon is going OK but I'm still ending up with warm browns not the more washed-out effect I'm really after.

I'd recently purchased a set of Lifecolor's Weathered Wood acrylic paint. On the face of it this set contains some vibrant colours so I did wonder what all the fuss is about from good reviews. To find out I thought I'd trial the colours on this wagon.

I started off applying the UA714 Warm Base Color with a small brush to try and get an uneven coating. Next using the same technique, the UA715 Warm Light Shade was applied, followed by the UA716 Warm Light Shade 2. All seemed to be going well although the result was too bright for my liking. It was toned down after applying, again with a small brush with thin strokes the UA713 Warm Dark Shade which allowed some of the underneath colours to show through. I then tried to apply highlights using UA718 Cold Light Shade with an almost dry brush. To finish, a very thin coat of black was washed over the wagon to pick out the plank edges. For the moment the Iron Work has only had a coating of Chaos Black. Tomorrow I'll be weathering the iron work, also trying to pick out the bolt heads, and tidy up the plank edges.

Overall the result is not too bad, once finished it might pass muster and appear on Tredethy Wharf. Still room for improvement though especially as it has not given me the effect I'm trying to achieve.