Friday, 30 September 2016

Goodbye Blogger.......

I've just about had my fill of Blogger and its gremlins, some people can't post a comment, spam and changes being made to the blogs layout without my knowledge, the list goes on.  So unless I can find a solution to the current problems that I'm experiencing, my blog will disappear over the weekend. All the content has been saved ready for exporting elsewhere, probably Wordpress or a website, not sure which yet, then again I might just forget all about blogging and return to a forum.

Thanks for following my modelling exploits, I hope to return somewhere soon.


Friday, 9 September 2016

Slowly going Green....

I've started to experiment with the 'Heki' and 'Noch' landscape mats that I purchased a few months ago, and so far so good.  Though I still prefer Silflor, so seeing as I can't get hold of what I want in this country, I've ordered some directly from Silhouette, in Germany.

First of all I sealed, and painted the bare plaster bandage, a coat of a light earth coloured matt emulsion, being followed with Sap Green, and Burnt Sienna artist acrylics.  The old platelayers hut has found a new home, and is in the process of being bedded into the new scenery.  Long, dried grass is slowly being added around the hut, and behind the station building.  This is the 'Noch' meadow mat, which is rather dense and best torn into clumps.

Though the colour looks just right in this photo, its actually too yellow for my liking, but I can get around that by introducing some different coloured clumps, and textures from other mats, together with some static grass fibres.  Colours change under different lighting conditions, just as in the real world, so care needs to be taken when selecting scenic items.

This section of embankment is purely experimental as regards the materials used, but otherwise its a true representation of the scene that I'm aiming for.  The low tree line was cut from a scrap piece of backscene that was lying around, and pasted onto some thin card.  Its an old technique, mastered by the likes of Ken Ball, and numerous other well known modellers of the old school.  The reason for my experiments, is to see if it might add something to the backscene when I finally get around to installing it.  There is also the chance that I might get things slightly out of alignment, so its a form of insurance policy against such mistakes as well. The tree is just one of many salvaged from the old layout, its fine for use in the background, but perhaps not good enough for use elsewhere.   I first laid some strips of the 'Noch' material, along the top of the embankment to represent those long, dried blades of grass that are often found in such places.  The rest is 'Heki' autumn meadow grass, which is very fine, and perhaps best teased out, the resulting gaps being filled with other materials as mentioned previously.

The 'Heki' autumn meadow is more natural looking, still not as good as Silflor, but not a bad alternative if you can't get the real thing. Again, the addition of some static grasses, and other textures will lift the product.  When selecting scenic materials its important to select a certain time of year, and stick to it.  I favour early to late autumn myself, so select the colours that are found at that time of year.  It also pays to spend a little more and buy quality products, the days when basic scatter, and ground foam materials, were the first choice are long gone, they do have their uses, but for creating realistic grass effects they are a little lacking.  Sadly, many UK modellers rarely want to spend their hard earned cash on expensive scenic materials, and go for the cheapest option. Preferring to save their money for locomotives and more exotic items of rolling stock, but each to his own.

Henry Stephens now plys his trade from a humble wooden shack, and corrugated iron shed.  This bleak scene, so typical of those places that are 'off the beaten track', is still being developed.  There is a slight gap between the earthworks in the background and backscene, which helps create a little more depth, and makes it easier to blend the modelled scenery into the backscene.  'Noch' grass is in evidence again, and is, at the moment looking far too dry for the Border Counties.  A few more faded greens should put that right, far better to add changes of colour and texture slowly, if you ask me. Rather than jumping in feet first and trying to do everything in one go.

I'm modelling a different type of yard surface this time, gone are the cobble, and set stones.  Instead its just made of gravel, ash and other similar cheap materials .  The starting point for the surface was a piece of glasspaper, which had been sprayed in grey acrylic primer from an aerosol can.  Various shades of grey, mixed up at random from black, and white artist acrylics were applied next, followed by a little dry brushing of the same basic colours, and some weathering powders.  The colours and textures are still, slowly being worked up, a few more weeds will appear, and that will be that.  The grass at the base of the low wall is made from tufts of Silflor, its a little greener around the roots, as its assumed that rainwater runs down the approach road and settles along the foot of the wall.  The tips of the grass blades are slightly lighter where they have caught the sun, take a walk along a country lane and you will understand what I'm harping on about.

Grass and weeds are also taking root around the goods shed, which is now awaiting some rainwater goods, and a coat of paint, or should that be rust?  It won't be long now before I can think about adding the photo backscene, and then I will have a better idea if Llangunllo, is going to look as I see it in my minds eye.

An old weighbridge hut, or whatever it might have been in its past life, is slowly being reclaimed by nature.  Which in this case is a mix of hanging basket liner, and the same 'Heki' and 'Noch' mats.  Such ruins are common place, yet rarely modelled, I did consider modelling the remains of an old loading dock as well, but perhaps not.

This is the scene today, seen through the lens of my better half's new camera, its simpler and more open, yet just as satisfying for me.  Once my order of Silflor arrives, it will be put to use on the main embankment.  As you will have gathered, there's still plenty to do yet, like putting the signal box back correctly, but the way things are going I expect the rebuild to be completed by Easter 2017, not that I've set myself a target.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Well and truly plastered.....

Life has been getting in the way of my modelling for the past few weeks, home improvements, outings, and the task of converting my vast selection of slides into digital form taking up most of my spare time.  But despite those distractions, I have managed to snatch the odd moment here, and there to make a little more progress on the layout.  A trip to the doctors for a routine checkup, resulted in me leaving with some plaster bandages, odd roll ends which were going to be thrown away.  I had asked if I might have a supply, and was told to help myself, and that is how the health service funded part of the scenery for Llangunllo.

Its a long time since I've used plaster bandage to model my terrain, and three hours later it looked like Llangunllo had suffered from a fall of snow.  So this is how the layout looks now, the eagle eyed will have spotted the goods shed taking shape, more of which another time.  Yes, its rather close to the trap point, but then again so was the one at Hemyock along with its cattle dock.  I can, if I wish move the shed further away from the trap, but its fine where it is for now.

I did consider building a smaller cattle dock, and positioning it next to the goods shed in true Llansilin Road fashion, but in the end I decided to leave things as they are.

If you look through the bridge arch you will be able to see an embankment beyond it.  Its only mocked up for now, the idea being to make the cassette deck partly scenic, and I think I've solved the problem of how the actual cassettes can be made to blend into the said embankment.  Of course it will mean modelling, and ballasting the track on the outer ends of each cassette to match that on the rest of the layout.  But I think it will be worth it, as not only will it make the layout look longer, but it should open up some interesting photographic opportunities.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

News from Llangunllo....

My modelling time has been severely restricted over the past week, in fact other than a little pondering and experimentation hardly any progress has been made.  On the pondering side, I've decided that the goods shed will be built on a timber trestle base, as per the prototype at Llansilin Road.

I've also made a few adjustment to the original mock up, the roof pitch is now shallower and the height of the walls reduced by a scale foot.  A start has also been made on the timber base, which is being made from balsa strip and ply sleepers.

Meanwhile the goods yard continues to be developed, a low stone wall made from 'Foamex' runs along the perimeter of the yard. But once plenty of tall grasses have been added it should be almost hidden from view, well that's the plan for what its worth.  The yard is much wider than it looks in this photo, and the backscene will provide a little more depth once its in place.

My search for scenic materials continues, and I recently took a look at this 'Heki' autumn meadow grass.  I did want a pack of wild meadow grass as well but I'm told its currently out of stock, still I'm in no rush.

I blew the cobwebs off 2538 the other day, and carried out a few cosmetic repairs.  She still needs a couple of lamp irons after suffering a little damage, but fortunately still runs as well as ever.  The meadow grass will be mixed with other shades and textures to complete the embankment.

blogI'm almost ready to add the backscene now, and then this area can be worked up a little more.  Had the real railway been built, then 2538 would be at its summit once she's crossed the river bridge.

Before I sign off, a plug for my new blog . The first post will no doubt come as a surprise, but my introduction will explain what its all about :-)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Developing the goods yard.......

Llangunllo goods yard, if you can call it that, is as simple as they come, being typical of those found out in the back of beyond.  The local coal merchant bags, and weighs his supplies direct from the wagon, there being no storage facilities in the yard.  This was common practice in out of the way places, where security, amongst other things could be an issue.  A yard crane is provided to handle any heavy, or awkward loads, but what about a goods shed? Well I had three ideas, a simple weed infested loading bank, with perhaps a grounded van body, and a couple of tatty corrugated iron huts.  A shed constructed of the same material, shades of Penhydd, which was modelled on the one at Hemyock, and last of all an old coach body, most of its windows being plated over, and a door cut into its side.  All had their merits, but as usual I was looking for something different.

I started off by modelling a simple loading bank, the type made from old sleepers and whatever else could be pressed into use. Most were back filled with rubble, ash, and other waste material to provide a raised platform.  Following prototype practice, I made mine from old sleepers, which are yet to be stained, weathered, and detailed, that will come later.

Not content to leave things at that, I dug these old, well thumbed books out.  What a bargain they were, when first published by Peco way back in the late sixties!   Book number one includes plans for Leckhampton goods shed, which lay between Kingham and Cheltenham.  Its a weird design, certainly different, and no doubt that is why it appealed to me, so out came a piece of card, and a rough mock up was made.

Planning, pondering and experimenting, I really enjoy those exercises.  The drawing for the Leckhampton shed, and my version, mocked up from card are on the left.  Whilst another weird and wonderful structure, namely Llansilin Road goods shed, plucked from the long defunct 'Tanat Valley Railway' is on the right.  I had come across this 'quirky' building, as Iain Robinson describes it, whilst searching through my many books for ideas and inspiration.  You can just catch a glimpse of it in the photo on the right, were it not for the rules of copyright, I would show you more.

The Leckhampton mock up in situ, its a lovely little building, but alas it looks more 'Caledonian' with its hipped roof and overhanging eaves, than GWR.  I expect you are wondering what on earth was I thinking off, well I thought it might blend in with the signal box, which shares the same style of roof.

Llangunllo signal box, hipped roof, overhanging eaves and all, this scene is now slowly being recreated on the new layout.

My version of Llansilin Road good shed is mounted on a loading bank, rather than a wooden trestle base, as on the prototype.  I've not got the canopy right, it should extend further out, and the height of the building needs reducing by around a scale foot, the pitch of the roof needs to be much shallower as well.  This is how building a mock up pays off, had I jumped in feet first, then I would have wasted some valuable modelling material.

But its not just about the building itself, I always consider how they fit into the wider picture. I then ask myself if there is a better way of doing things, does the scene look realistic, and create the all important atmosphere?  Only when I'm happy do I press ahead, but despite taking everything into consideration, I still get caught out from time to time.

I think the prototype had a pair of hinged doors, rather than a single sliding one.  The shed has been in situ for a day or two now, and yes, I will be building it from a mixture of Wills, and Slaters corrugated sheets, the later being finer, and more suited for the roof, and canopy.

That area of unkempt grass on the left will cover the remains, of what would have been a longer loading bank in years past.  I have the idea, of partly burying the foundations of the old Llangunllo quarry weighbridge hut in the grass, just to give a hint that something else once stood there.

This view gives an idea of the canopy height, it can be lowered a fair bit, yet still give adequate clearance for the chimney of 1455, and other engines.  So what next, well now that I know the footprint of the goods shed and station building, I can lay in the rest of the scenery foundations, complete the plasterwork, paint it, and put the backscene in place.  I've still got that damn point rodding to sort out as well, but don't feel in the mood to fire the soldering iron up just yet.

Moving off topic, I'm in the process of preparing a new blog for some of my prototype photos. Which include BR in the 70's, the early preservation scene, and more recent bits and bobs.  Once I'm ready to publish them, a link will be appear under 'Other blogs' on the right hand side bar.  Updates won't appear as often as they do here, but nevertheless I think you will find something of interest.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Groundwork Days.....

The point rodding has been postponed yet again, as I didn't really fancy the idea of firing up the soldering iron in the current heatwave.  So I switched my attention to completing the stonework on the platform face, then painted it, and prepared the base for the platform surface.

This is how the scene looked a week ago today, with the card platform surface, and station approach laid in place.  The card lattice scenery support now blends into everything, and is ready for its top surface.

Of course I was desperate to see how the whole basic scene would look with a train beside the platform.  So 1455 had the honour of arriving with the first passenger train to call at the new Llangunllo station.

She later returned with a short goods train, though with no cassette lined up, she won't travel much further!

The platform top surface is glass paper, which was first sprayed with Carplan acrylic primer, to seal the surface, and prevent the material from becoming a soggy mess when its painted and weathered.  Coping stones have been scribed onto strips of thin card.  Foamboard was used for the platform face, the stones being scribed into it and then sprayed with the same acrylic primer.  Humbrol enamels were then used to paint the stones, light and dark earth, track colour and various mixes of the three, being dry brushed across the stones, so that just a little paint at a time was dragged off the brush.  From some angles the stonework looks grey, but that is down to the lighting that I currently use.

With the basic platform complete, I tried a few experiments.  The Coopercraft GWR seat is one of two salvaged from Penhydd, and will be repainted in faded 'chocolate'.  I'm not sure if the lamp hut will end up being positioned end on, as above, or sideways as below.  Some typical GWR spear fencing will run along the platform where that rough grass has sprung up, and a gate of the same construction, sited between the station building toilet block, and the last tuft of grass will provide access to the platform.  More of the same fencing will run from the other end of the building towards the bridge, and this time a running in board will be modelled.

The platform surface was painted with various mixes of black and white artist acrylics, coping stones were picked out in Humbrol concrete, and then given a light wash of track colour, which seeped into the joints between them.  A few weeds have been planted, and more will follow as the surface continues to be worked up.

Further detailing will include some drainage grids, and perhaps a manhole cover.  The etch is from the Brassmasters range, as is the one containing point rodding cranks etc, etc.

More weeds appear day by day, applying them is one of those small jobs that can be done between other projects and chores.

The buffer stop is slowly disappearing into a mass of long grass and weeds.....

..........more of which are springing up elsewhere.  What happens next will depend on the weather, should the heatwave subside, then the soldering iron will be fired up.  If not then a start on the goods yard surface might be made.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Laying foundations, and experiments with station buildings....

I had planned to start work on the point rodding this week, but unfortunately I've mislaid an etch for the cranks, and other bits and pieces.  So whilst I awaited replacements, I've been working on the other embankment, and started to construct the platform, and station yard foundations.

There's nothing groundbreaking, or high tech here, its just cereal packaging and scraps of 'Foamex'. The platform face has not yet been attached, that will have to wait, because I've yet to scribe and paint the stonework.  Once the platform surface has been fitted, the card lattice embankment support, will be gently lifted and glued onto it, to eventually give a seamless joint between the two.

This lovely photo of New Radnor station building, appears here with the kind permission of Paul, he of Albion Yard fame.  At the suggestion of Barry Norman, I attempted to model this building for the original Llangunllo. Alas it looked out of place, out of proportion and larger than I expected, which came as a surprise given the buildings relatively small footprint.

However, I decided to look at the design again, and chose this example of the same basic building, as I feel its proportions look far better.

Using the original drawings for the proposed, but never built 'Limekilns' (Dolyhir) station building, which can be found in 'The New Radnor Branch' by Nicolas de Courtais.  I drew out a simple fold up model on a piece of card, just as I was taught at Primary School, more years ago than I care to remember.  It was simple exercises such as this which taught us how to measure, cut and score materials.  I'm told by our teacher son, that such modelling exercises are no longer taught in the classrooms of his school.  I find that such a shame, because those simple lessons, and the skills that I learned have served me well.

Anyway, returning to the model, or more accurately, the mock up, once assembled it turned out to be far too large, or is the original Llangunllo building too small?  I had been using the dimensions as written on the plans, and I see no reason to assume that they are incorrect.

The beauty of these mock ups is that they can be easily dismantled, reworked and used again.  So I carried out some slight adjustments to the buildings height, width and length.  The size of the door and windows have yet to be adjusted, the pitch of the roof would also benefit if it was shallower.

What next, well I'll leave the building in place as it is for a day or two.  I'll take some photos of 1455 and its single coach in the platform, study them, then perhaps I'll make further adjustments, add some extra detail. Then if I'm happy, and feel the building will fit in place, I'll either build a proper model, or look elsewhere for inspiration.

This morning was spent designing the Mk3 station building, I adjusted the pitch of the roof, moved the toilet block to the other end of the building, and reduced the length of the main building by a scale two feet.  Feeling more than happy with those simple mods, I added some etched windows, card sills and lintels.  The latter should be arched, and they will be on the proper model, small adjustments were made to the size of the main door, and a plinth rounded things off nicely.

I think the building sits much better in the scene now, and it will definitely be built.  The main shell of the building will be constructed from 3mm 'Foamex'.  Stonework and lintels being scribed onto its surface, the plinth will be made from styrene sheet, as will the roof.  Slates from York Modelmaking are in stock, so there is nothing stopping me from cracking on with the build.

So that's the design for the new Llangunllo station building sorted, in the meantime the platform needs completing, and seeing as my point rodding cranks have arrived, that's another job to get on with.