Monday, 13 January 2020

Sett in my ways

A large part of the area of this little layout needs to be roadways and quayside, which to look the part should be cobbles or setts. From past experience my favourite approach to this is to use DAS clay, and emboss the setts or cobbles, which I used (in 7mm scale) for Landswood Park Farm. It is, admittedly, rather tedious to do - but as I found with Slugworth fettling plastic sheet to be a neat fit to the rails and rebated for the sleepers is also tedious. The way the clay fills the gaps between the sleepers without a large void in the flangeway looks much more realistic, and the embossing can be adapted to suit the geography.

A handy tip I learned from a fellow Sussex Downs 009 group member was this trick for rolling out the clay to a consistent thickness. I used an offcut of melamine covered shelf, with a couple of strips of 2mm card stuck down, but any smooth surface and thickness of spacer to suit would do. A simple knife for cutting the clay and a ruler for when a straight edge is useful, while a damp cloth keeps the clay usable for longer.

As seen in the last post the ground is built up to sleeper height with 2mm card, so 2mm of clay brings the height up to a little under 1mm below rail height. To prevent undulations over the sleepers small lumps of clay are pushed in between them, inside and outside the rails - this can be rough, as seen at the rear of the picture. I lay the clay on a layer of PVA, I don't know if it is necessary but figure it won't do any harm. The embossing is done with simple home made tools...

... here are the tools, as you can see no expense spared!

  • On the left a piece of 20-thou plastic allows straight lines of various lengths to be embossed. 
  • The black piece has two notches for the rails, dragged along the track at about 45 degrees it ensures the clay either side of and between the rails is just below rail height
  • The thin black piece is critical - it's 40-thou or 1mm thick, and has another piece set about 1.5mm back from the end - it is simply used to open out the flangeways, by running it along the inside edge of the rail with lip on the rail (it just bumps along the rail spikes ensuring the gap is deep enough)
  • The cobbles are embossed with 2mm plastic tube, with the end chamfered inwards to give a sharper edge and a more rounded impression. One tool has a cluster of 7, one a line of 3, or the other end can be used for a single cobble (but that would be very slow!)
  • The square(ish) sett moulds were made from 20-thou plastic with a thinned edge, and 10 thou microstrip 2mm wide. Each set is about 2.2 x 2mm, again a large cluster of 9 and 3 in a row were made - partly dictated by the size of microstrip and partly because 3 fits neatly between the rails (about 7mm)

Embossing is then a case of ensuring the clay is level and below rail height, opening up the flangeways, and imprinting the desired pattern with the mould tools. I went for setts around and between the rails, and cobbles (presumably cheaper) elsewhere, The impression doesn't need to be deep at all, and the moulds can overlap previous impressions to help align them or fill awkward spots. In places things aren't perfect, but overall the impression works well. Quayside edging and kerb stones are made to suit. These buildings were simply pressed firmly into the clay to create a small foundation.

An overall view with the embossing complete, the quayside and the road across the back. The rest of the track will be ballasted, and the lane off towards the front will be gravel (sand) for variety. It was tedious, but not as bad as I feared - I think it took about 7 hours over two days, plus a couple of evenings to make the tools.

Hmm, that's a lot of cobbles to paint!

A close-up of the road. The clay can be laid to any gradient including compound slopes as here, while imperfections in the embossing and small bumps add to the realism I think. There's no pavement so I've added a line of setts along the edges, really this should be a gully for drainage but I didn't manage that level of detail!

Finally, a few final areas of landscape have appeared - the river-bank at the end of the quay, and a slope at the back of the fiddle yard. So now very little ground remains level apart from the quayside, the track, and the areas where buildings stand.

I have collected some details to add, both by Langley; some drains and manhole covers which I need to set into the clay, and some bollards for the quayside. These are in two forms - cast round bollards that look like they could tie up an ocean liner, and some well-worn wooden posts. At the moment I'm not sure which I like best.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Loctern Quay - Ground works underway

Slow progress the last week or so, but with the buildings completed the focus has shifted back to the layout, preparing the ground levels ready for scenery.

At the left hand end, the terrace will be raised slightly on a base made of foam-core board, thick card, and a foam pizza base. The steps are cut from 2mm card. There will be walls alongside the steps and supporting a path, but these will be fitted after scenery.

The roadway was cut from card a little while back, but is now stuck in pace on packing and formers to raise it up, and a small bank fitted in front of it from pizza base foam. Level crossing timbers are cut from black plasticard but (as can be seen from the one out of place) not yet stuck down. This is a daft place for a crossing, the points, many angles, curves and check-rails made it tricky to fit the plastic, but it does help scenically and using paper templates helped. Using black plastic means any bits missed in painting, or caught when track cleaning, are not obvious - although the plastic is set below rail level.  Point levers are also being fitted to extended timbers made from plastic.

At the right-hand end the quayside has had 2mm card fitted around the tracks to bring the level up to the sleeper tops, in readiness for the clay that will form the surface. I've also fitted a buffer stop.

You might have spotted the quayside itself has gained a stone face. I could have gone for brick but wasn't sure how printed paper would survive whatever I end up using for water, and didn't want to use embossed brick as it might contrast too much with the buildings. Also, it's not unusual to see riverside walls built from stone even in areas of predominantly brick buildings, so I thought it would be a nice contrast. After some discussion on the NGRM forum of the best stone to use I chose Wills dressed stonework, which I think fits well. To match the courses the three pieces were each cut from the bottom of separate sheets.

I've also got a partially sunken barge resin moulding from Anyscale models, which I think sets the location as a riverside quay which has fallen out of use. It needs cleaning up and painting but will I think add a little interest at the front. I will have to figure out how I'm doing the water soon...

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Buildings completed!

As a new year begins I've been considering where my 009 challenge entry is at. I only started it in August, but the deadline is the end of March, and the layout has an exhibition a couple of weeks before then, so I only have about 10 weeks to finish it! The baseboards, track, wiring, and lighting are complete, but buildings take a lot of layout-building time, so my aim was to finish them by the end of the year - which I have managed, just!

I last showed the wriggly tin-shed in raw plasticard, it is now painted. It was given a coat of red primer, then given rusty colour washes. It was then dampened and salt sprinkled on, before being sprayed black (when dry). Some final washes, dry brushing, and weathering powders completed the look.

The cluster of buildings at the other end of the street have also been finished. The plain card building looks OK once painted and weathered. Details such as gutters, down-pipes, flashing, and curtains have been added as for the terrace houses seen in the last post.

This cluster of buildings works well seen from the far end of the layout too, though the road exit is not so hidden from here.

The rest of the street have had final details in the same way, which along with blacking out the insides, has helped bring them to life. The shops have also had a plinth added along the front under the shop fronts which should help them be set neatly into the scenery.

Finally a look the other way showing the factory and the terrace obscuring the fiddle yard. The next job is to start building up the scenery, there's not much of it but subtle variations in height and tight spaces means it isn't simple.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Loctern Quay Terrace

The last building for Loctern Quay is another Petite Properties kit - this one is "Station Road Terrace". As usual the laser-cut MDF shell goes together quickly and accurately, which I then fitted to a 5mm foam-core base to increase the depth to help plating into scenery. I then covered it with brick-paper, this one is from Scalescenes, note the brickpaper was cut away around the door openings. The detail parts are attached to a piece of card with blu-tack, partially assembled where appropriate but kept separate where helpful for painting.

For this one I used the supplied roof parts, although I trimmed a little off both the width and the depth to make it a better fit. I had fitted the chimneys to the walls rather than sticking them on the roof, so the roof was cut to fit around them.

The short rear part of the roof (being a low-relief model) is attached with off-cuts of card and foam-core, while barge-boards are cut from card (none being included in this kit) and fitted to the outside of the ends.

Now I omitted to take photos of the intervening steps, so here's the completed model after the details were painted and fitted.

A few notes on the details:
  • The door openings were painted the same stone colour as the surroundings, and the window lintels and cills
  • Doors, porches, and frames were painted separately. Curtains are coloured paper, and the inside of the building is painted black
  • Inside the porches were floored with checker tiles and lined with ceramic tiles to waist height, using textures from the internet
  • The roof was made from York Modelmaking slates, which were then painted picking out individual slates before being given a grey wash to harmonise and fill the gaps (I should have painted the roof base black first, but fortunately it isn't visible). 
  • The ridge is a strip of micro-strip, covered with a strip of newspaper margin coloured grey with a felt tip pen, to represent a lead ridge. The lead flashing around the chimneys is made in the same way
  • The gutter is a strip of 40-thou black plasticard with the front lower corner rounded, simple but very effective. Down-pipes are 40 thou micro-rod with the brackets represented by small strips of plastic. 

I'm pretty pleased with the result, which looks pretty good even in this cruel close-up photo.

Despite the distractions of Christmas and the general busy-ness of this month I've also been working on completing the other buildings, but I'll update on those in another post.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Book Review: The Corris Railway - Peter Johnson

This is a new release from Pen and Sword books, "The Corris Railway - The story of a mid-Wales slate Railway" by Peter Johnson, and it is pretty much what it says on the cover.

The Corris Railway is one of the oldest of the Welsh slate railways, but one of the less well-known, and I have to say, one of my favourites. The locos and carriages were attractive, the stations quite distinctive, and the scenery through which it ran is beautiful, though of course home to a number of slate quarries. The book tells the story of the line chronologically through four eras - proposals and early horse-drawn years, ownership by a tramway company, and then the GWR, and finally the revival by preservationists in recent years. The text is well written and easy to follow, and introduces the characters involved in the promotion and running of the railway as well as the describing the development and operation of the railway.

As usual from this publisher this hardback book is of good quality, with a good selection of well produced photographs, I don't know how many haven't been seen before but a good number were new to me. There are contemporary maps, and the endpapers feature the route highlighted on 6" OS maps from 1902, but no track plans and I'd have found a simplified map showing key locations mentioned in the text helpful (some places seemed to have several names). There are no drawings, nor stock-lists except a summary of the locos.

So perhaps it isn't a definitive volume about the railway, but it is nonetheless worth of a place on the bookshelves of enthusiasts of narrow gauge and other quirky independent railways, and is a valuable record of the history of this little railway and it's place in the Dulas valley. I found it an enjoyable and informative read, and as a modeller, a good source of inspiration.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The end of the road

Faced with an exhibition form to fill in I was forced to come up with a name for the 009 society challenge layout, so I chose "Locktern Quay".

Meanwhile, work is progressing on the street at the back of the layout, particularly the left hand end of the road, where buildings were needed to disguise the sector plate and the fact the road goes nowhere. As these buildings have to fit some very specific sites and are odd shapes they had to be scratch-built to fit. Hopefully they will give the impression that the road continues around a corner, and there is more to the town/village than the buildings seen.

The central building here had a mock up you may have seen in earlier photos to confirm the size, actual construction used foam-core board for the ends (double thickness for the chimney) and mount-board card for the side walls, the foam-core trimmed to recess the card behind the outer layer of card at the corners. This makes a sturdy yet relatively simple core to which brick-paper is added. Chimney pots are Dart Castings set into an off-cut of Wills roofing plastic, with the detail sanded off and turned face down.

The white building is simply card, which has a texture I hope will look like plaster once painted, the edges are not normally visible. The lintel details are cut from thinner card. I thought the "London" style hidden roof would be different, and avoids an obviously odd-shaped roof given the narrow tapered shape of the building.

The final building is simply a gable and short side walls (foam-core and card again) with a single window, and a different brick-paper finish. All three buildings will use laser-cut windows, but from two different sources.

The roofs are made from Wills plastic slate or tile sheets, with triangles of 40-thou plasticard used to support them, and L-section plastruct for the ridge scored to look like individual tiles. The ends of each roof piece are rebated to thin the end of the tiles/slates, and barge-boards cut from 20-thou plastic glued into them.

Here's the view from the front of the layout showing how the exit to the fiddle yard and the road exit are disguised, and I think the arrangement of buildings looks natural. You can see I've started making the roadway from card, with packing underneath to give height variation. I've also packed under each building to get the heights about right relative to the road.

From the right hand end of the layout the sector plate is just about visible but not obvious, but the road exit remains discrete. The upward gradient of the road works well.

Now I just need to paint the details and complete this trio of buildings.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Corrugated warehouse

You might remember I was planning a curved-roof shed for the right hand end of the layout, as shown by various mock-ups.

The building was made out of 40-thou (1mm) plasticard. Basic dimensions were taken from the card mock-up and transferred to the plastic with the help of calipers, and of course a compass - this one is a left-over from university technical drawing classes, and usefully can be fitted with a point at both ends, which was used to scribe the curve.

With the curve already scribed it was easy to cut out, but what about curving the roof? The plastic was taped to something round - a tin mug looked about right - and boiling water poured over it. Once cooled the plastic is nearly the right shape, and is easily to fit.

Here's the same technique being applied to the corrugated sheet - I used Wills clear corrugated material, as I had some in that was starting to go yellow, and it is much thinner than the moulded stuff making curving it possible, and the edges look better.

Back to the shell of the building, the back of the front is given lots of bracing, and the roof/walls piece stuck in place, note how the preformed curve means it is already almost the right shape.

Next  I worked out how to attach the corrugated sheet, the building was too tall for a single sheet to cover it but this thin plastic corrugated sheet can be overlapped, rather like the real thing.

I stuck it on with double-sided tape, sealing the edge with solvent. The corrugated material is a shiny, hard clear plastic that doesn't glue easily, solvent won't stick it together but does hold it reasonably well to the softer white plastic. Over a large area though the double sided tape should be quite strong, and means no warping. Even superglue seemed to struggle, though with patience it was used to hold the top piece in place.

With a quick waft of red oxide primer it can be placed on the layout to see how well it fills the gap - looks OK to me. I'm planning to paint it tar black, which seems most common for such buildings, with a bit of rust showing through. However, my wife rather likes it in red...

I just need to make a door, and get the rest of the painting done, there will also be a brick plinth along the bottom.

I've also been working on the rest of the street along the back of the layout, so more soon!