Saturday, 31 December 2016

December 2016 update

Another month has passed and only a small amount of progress has been made on Tredethy Wharf. My wife and I hosted this month’s (December) Area Group meeting during which one member (Gordon) ran some locos on the layout that are being offered as motive power for the February show. This small running session did bring to light a few small problems that I have since worked on and hopefully solved. A further running session (dress rehearsal) will have to be planned for late January/early February...

What else have I been up to? Well... not much, certainly not as much as I'd hoped with building rolling stock. A couple of open wagons are nearing completion while the second rake of clay wagons have, for some reason, been problematic. On most of the clay wagons the sides had started to bow inwards, this is a first for me. So I spent some time dismantling the bodies then, after a little corrective work, reassembling them, they're now starting to look better but still much to do...

For me, the Christmas break never seems to be a good time for modelling. I find time is taken up with family and friends combined with relaxing in front of the log fire (glass in hand) reading a book or two received on the 25th. Over Christmas my son and I dismantled the layout and managed to squeeze it into the car, a bit of a two man job, but it looks like it will be possible to transport it in one vehicle...phew! Unfortunately, there will be no room for a passenger. My planning regarding transporting the layout to shows has not been up to scratch, mainly because I was never confident that Tredethy would develop into an exhibitable layout.

(End of Year School Report)  Yan must have more confidence in his modelling and better planning is required for transportation if he constructs something that might be taken to shows. Also spare time organisation needs to improve to allow him more visits to the 'Man Cave' during 2017.

May I take this opportunity to thank all who find time to read this ponderous blog and hope you have had an enjoyable, relaxing Christmas. May I wish you a stress free New Year with plenty of modelling time to boot.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

November update

With only 89 days left before the Lincoln Show I feel the scenery is now at a stage where I should move onto other things. I would like to do more with the scenery, especially as I've not planted any nettles yet and feel a couple of trees are required... but... I need to build, more clay wagons; more cassettes for the storage sidings; a few more open wagons as well as box vans. There is also some tidying up to do on the presentation information. So I've still plenty to do...

The above photos show the current state of play with the "test plank". The white streaks are the result of recent running sessions. They show where I've misjudged the height of the ground around the rails that caused the loco to stall or derail.

Onwards and upwards...

Monday, 14 November 2016


I took a day out to visit the Spalding show on Sunday. This was for two reasons: firstly to try and encourage a close friend, who is trying to make a start in the hobby, in making a decision about what to build; secondly to see Gordon and Maggie Gravett's Pempoul.

On the first, I think there was a modicum of success. My friend is looking to build an N gauge layout. This meant much of the visit was spent discussing the different merits of what was on show in that scale. We met up with two of the old Mablethorpe and District MRC gang who offered their advice which was duly taken on board. I think the light bulb moment for my friend was after good chat with Ray Slack operating Bodmin, coupled with his kind invitation to to get behind the layout to see how the layout was constructed and operated. My friend may need a little help in layout design and operation along with a gentle push but I could see the cogs starting to whir.

On the second I'll let the following photos speak for themselves

Not the best photos that have been taken of this superb piece of 3D artwork. Pempoul was not the only layout on show worth admiring but for me it was best in show.

On arriving home I was able to spend some time in the "Man Cave" to make a little more progress on Tredethy Wharf. So overall an excellent day...

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Stuttering progress and the next project

Well, the last two weeks have not gone to plan... How often do we all say that? With two weekends away visiting friends and family along with a number of week nights spent away with work, progress almost ground to a stand still on Tredethy Wharf. What I have been able to achieve is not really much to shout about so will have to wait for the next blog...

But.., while spending evenings in hotels, not drink in the bar but playing "Billy no mates" in the hotel bedrooms, I've been giving some thought about what comes after Tredethy. Over the years, before I joined Scalefour Society, I'd collected almost all of Ratio's GWR buildings with the intention of building a GWR branch line terminus. I've also been slightly sidetracked by thoughts of a Taff Vale colliery and collected a few buildings and stock to suit.

Since starting this blog I've realised that there is a big difference in timescale to what can be achieved in OO compared to P4. This realisation has come from the time it has taken me to get Tredethy Wharf built. So I'd started to think, is there some merit in a small project being a viable option to follow on from Tredethy? A small layout would enable me to exhibit if it was considered good enough. It would also be an achievable project especially if I go really small and extended Tredethy to include a Clay Dries or Stone sidings....

So while being 'Billy no mates" I revisited some of the track plans I've collected over the years, then with pen and paper in hand I sketched out some ideas. While doodling a troublesome thought kept creeping into these ideas. Once Tredethy is scenically built, to complete the project, I will still need to build a few locos (a Beattie Well Tank, a WR 1366, BR Class 03 being three locos) as well as a few more wagons. These are not going to be built overnight and at the pace I'm progressing may take two or three more years before I can exhibit Tredethy with a correct loco fleet spanning a few years. If I change tack to a GWR BLT or Taff Vale Colliery these layouts would required a different loco stud and other rolling stock to be built. Hmmm.... so a change of tack might not necessarily be a quick project.

So what of the first and last big project, Grogley Junction?

Well, thinking that after building the above three locos for Tredethy they would also be available for Grogley brings me back to thoughts about this big project. It is the one that I still have a passion for. It is the one that I can picture in my mind. It is the one that I have been researching and building an alternative universe for. On the down side if I make a start on Grogley in P4 I now realise it will probably never be finished. But does that matter...? If it brings me enjoyment while building it,  probably not. If I cannot exhibit it, does that matter? Probably not.

So during my second week away I dug out the current track plan for Grogley and started to have a think and a bit of a tweak... The below is what I've ended up with.

The major changes I've made, since the last track plan I've posted, are adding a three platform station reducing the line towards Wadebridge junction to single track and adding Polbrock Engine shed. The more minor additions are a small loading dock siding and a siding that will be used for coaching stock storage. This is version 15 of ideas for this project and does look like it has grown "arms and legs". My thoughts have been, if this is going to be the (first &) last big project then it had better include all that I would like to see on a layout and give good operational opportunities. So a layout with a station, exchange goods sidings, a junction, and an engine shed, what more could I want...? Hmmm, don't answer that 'cos I could think of a few if I tried :-)

Below is just the track plan showing the kick back for the Bodmin cassette storage so it can be accessed from both directions. This would allow Bodmin to Wadebridge trains to be stored on these cassettes.

One advantage of this latest track plan is, by replacing the previous hidden sidings with Polbrock Engine Shed, it has allowed me to increase the scenic area of the layout. This extra space has given the opportunity to represent a length of single track running along side the river leading into Polbrock. This will give me a better chance to replicate the picture below.

Another possible advantage is as there are two signal boxes (Grogley Junction & Polbrock) I could split the layout to allow for two or more operators. Wow, it is getting out of hand...

While away I've also been able to get the basic elements of the above into Templot. Some slight alterations have had to be made but overall it is the same as the above. To complete the track plan in Templot, I have to finish the turntable; a double slip; a three way turnout; and those tricky diamonds at the junction to draw. Apart from that the drawing is complete.

Well, will this project get off the ground or is it just a dream? We'll have to wait and see...

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.