Thursday 26 September 2013

Messing it up

So far so good, but the model is looking a bit tidy for an industrial site, so time to get messy. First up a dirty wash of acrylic paint over the ballast, varying the colour to give oily patches in front of the engine shed. In this picture the track on the nearside of the brush has been dirtied, that beyond is yet to be done, the effect is subtle but worth it.

However photos of the Thakeham site show, unsurprisingly, a lot of sand. Two colours of sand in fact as the light and red sands were used to vary the colour of the concrete products. I found plenty of fine light sand in the kids sand-pit, and a friend gave me a jar of brick dust which is ideal for fine red sand. This was applied liberally but with thought - mixed in places, but with one colour dominating in others, such as around the near hopper which contains light sand.

At the other end of the line the red sand dominates around this end of the tipping shed. The track is part-buried in places and only under a light dusting of sand in others, while the paved area just has patchy areas. The photo above also shows the moss growth on the asbestos roof.

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Saturday 21 September 2013

Casting Concrete

The Skytrex mouldings are very nice but don't really fill the stock-yard, and are a bit pricey to get more! I'd been thinking of a quick and easy way to make more concrete products, and decided to have a go at casting my own - not from concrete though! I remembered there was some Linka moulding compound in the loft, it must be 20 years old but was well sealed. Linka is a system of casting wall sections from a sort of plaster in rubber moulds to make buildings, I haven't seen it around for years but it seems they are still going. None of the moulds I had looked suitable, so I decided to have a go at making my own.

An evening with the plasticard and I had made moulds for paving slabs and beams that can be cut down to make kerb-stones. The slots that cast the beams were arranged to flex apart to let the castings out. I mixed up the compound with a little black powder paint to add colour and spread it into the moulds.

About 45 minutes later and the castings were eased out of the moulds, rather to my surprise they have come out really well! The Linka compound casts well and is surprisingly strong, though I expect it is similar to dental plaster.

Another evening of casting batches and I had a pile of concrete products. By adding a little burnt umber powder paint I had red-pink paving slabs too, which I wanted as it shows the need for the different coloured sands that Thakeham used.

All these concrete products meant more pallets would be needed, but that isn't too hard really. I studied a few at work, then set about with strips of 20 thou plastic for the planks and 40 thou for the beams. I made a few to different designs and sizes before settling on this approach, but that's fine as from what I've seen they do come in all sorts of designs and sizes! In between casting concrete I made about a dozen.

Painting all those pallets was a tedious job though. I went for a natural-wood colour with just a little darker mottling, as my photos of the Thakeham site shows the pallets used are in good condition. The Skytrex concrete mouldings and pallets were painted too. At least my castings don't need painting!

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Sunday 15 September 2013

Going Green!

With an impending house move bringing the effective deadline for this project ever closer I have been making progress on both layout and locos. This is an exciting time for the layout build as it quickly progresses from bare boards to a scenic layout. The first step in making it green is the grass: first I give the ground a layer of traditional flock as a base layer, then apply static grass using the cheap applicator I got last year. A blend of shades and lengths works best, with longer grass a straw colour.

Next up comes the bushes. I use a variety of methods, here rubberised horsehair covered with ground foam and flock makes quite effective brambles.

While here I've used lichen, teased out carpet underlay, with various flocks and foliage, and clump foliage. PVA neat and diluted is used, but cheap hairspray makes an effective way of sticking flock to bushes.

I felt the layout needed some trees to reinforce the feeling of being an industrial site surrounded by woodland. The method I use is the twisted wire approach, here I used wire that has been sold for this purpose but stripped multi-strand mains cable is just as good. This is surprisingly easy to do and each tree takes about 15 minutes to make up, though with hindsight I could have added a few more branches lower down. Once the shape has been made up I covered the trunks in PVA glue - about three layers helped hide the twisted wire.

Foliage fibres are teased out and stuck onto the wire with PVA, then covered with Woodland Scenics foliage, again teased out and stuck onto the fibres with the hairspray. More hairspray is applied and extra ground foam in a similar shade is added, including from underneath. The small tree uses a plastic moulding I picked up at an exhibition.

I haven't planted the trees yet as they will be close to the edges of the board and get in the way! However I have obtained a few accessories to dress the scene. I've failed to find a suitable fork-lift truck in 1:43 scale, so started looking for other suitable road vehicles, this Mk1 Transit by Vanguard should be perfect for setting the period between the late 60's and early 80's. It comes heavily weathered (though not completely convincingly to be honest), but was far more suitable than other available liveries. The pallets and concrete products are from Skytrex, a bit pricey but are ideal for the scene.

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Wednesday 4 September 2013

Hudson Hunslet Build Progress

While most of the focus has been on the layout recently, I have made occasional progress with the Hudson Hunslet kit. I managed to fold up and solder together the bonnet and radiator weeks ago, I was very pleased to get this right as it is a tricky shape, the two parts of the bonnet are partially overlapping and partially aligned.

The side panels are then attached, along with the handles/catches at their top. As you can see in the picture I used a piece of card with notches and a strip of masking tape to hold the handles in position, some solder had first been applied to the bonnet side, the iron was then applied to the inside of the bonnet. I was very relieved the rest of the soldering didn't fall apart! More tricky was the rear panel and angled control panel as seen below - a picture which reveals how untidy the soldering is inside the bonnet! The sanding gear control lever can be just seen protruding from a slot.

At this point I was diverging from the instructions. I tried soldering the main frames to the footplate, and managed to get one end on, but I wasn't going to get them straight and perfectly aligned when soldering, and my iron isn't really up to a good job. So I continued making up the body, attaching the seat and rear bulkhead (with sand-pipes) to the footplate, and the gearbox with controls as a separate unit. This is as far as I got with soldered construction:

Here's a close-up of the gearbox and controls, sorry it's a bit blurry but this assembly is about half and inch tall! I'm rather pleased with the soldering. The instructions suggest soldering a handrail knob to the end of each lever and filing to a ball shape, but I figured life is too short, so I simply added a blob of epoxy glue. They may not be perfect spheres, but they should look fine when painted. I now think the long lever to the left (the reversing lever) should be the brake lever, and that the instructions have the wrong part-numbers, but I didn't realise until too late.

The frame was finally assembled using epoxy glue. Purists may sniff at this but if Jaguar and Lotus can stick their cars together I'm not worried, it will be plenty strong enough given the surface area to bond. It was also easy to do without burning fingers, and with a few minutes to adjust until everything was aligned. At this point I was going to glue the bonnet in place, but then had a better idea...

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