Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Just testing how things are looking

This evening, after adding a few bushes, weeds, and scenic bits at the cottage end of the layout, I thought I'd take a few pic's to see how it is starting to look when some rolling stock is added to the mix.

I'm not sure about the yellow flowers in the field, also I feel the grass texture in the field is looking a little flat but over it's begining to feel OK.

Monday, 17 October 2016

There's been heavy rain overnight

There was some heavy rain during the night but after a warm start to the day the early morning mist has cleared. Then with a blue sky and the sun beating down there are only a few puddles left...

Not sure if these capture the effect totally but, after reading an  article in one of the modelling magazines showing how to create puddles, I was dying to have a go at representing pools of water within the hard standing area. After all, Cornwall does get its fair share of rain and can get very misty and dank at times. I've spent a few Cornish holidays in a tent or caravan wearing rain coats or on the beach huddled under an umbrella. Sometimes being in the sea has been the driest place to be...

Still much to do on the scenery but hope to have the major items completed by the end of the month.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Scaleforum 2016

Well another year goes by and another excellent show in Aylesbury. Scaleforum 2016 celebrated 40 years of finescale modelling and certainly did it in style. On show was a wide selection of models from the very beginning of the society to some of the most recent innovations. These exhibits were supported by a good selection of traders who, over the years, have helped the society bring P4 format to a wider audience. 40 years ago I could not see myself having the ability to build a P4 layout. I now count myself lucky to have come back to the hobby, with all that the society and trade now offer, and be able to possibly achieve something that might pass muster as an acceptable P4 layout... Many thanks must go to the dedicated band of modellers that 40 years ago decided P4 was an achievable discipline and have driven the format forward.

So on to some of the layouts that were at the show...

Being a relative newcomer to P4 there were a number of layouts that I was able to view for the first time: Shelvington, Sidmouth, Ferring, Pwllheli and Cirencester.






Best at show...? Well I could not really decide as I felt all layouts on display showed P4 at its best and were an inspiration. Shelvington, however, opened my eyes to different lighting techniques along with computer control, so as far as the most technically advanced Shelvington should get my vote. But... all in all being able to watch and admire all layouts along with the ability to make a few purchases for my test plank made the 6 hour round trip well worth it.

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.