Monday 20 March 2023

The London festival of railway modelling

On Saturday helped man the 009 Society stand at the London festival of railway modelling at Alexandra Palace. It's a long trip from Sussex needing a very early start and a late return, but it was good to see so much interest in 009. I'm sure the recent increase in the availability of ready-to-run has encouraged many to take an interest since getting started and building a decent layout is so much easier now. As well as the showcase, demo layout (which being a roundy-roundy at table height attracts the younger kids!), we had some copies of the 009 Society Handbook for sale - all had gone by mid-afternoon Saturday. There were lots of families, and it was also nice to see a range of ages showing interest, we may not see many younger (sub-40!) people in clubs but clearly they are interested in the hobby, one young man commenting that his generation couldn't expect to have a house in London but 009 looked suitable for a small space. 

It's a big show but with two of us to man the stand we each had opportunity to look around, and it was good to see some old faces to chat to. Of course there are layouts for all interests, and I was pleased to find a few narrow gauge layouts. I didn't get a program so don't have all details.

Bunkers Lane in O9 is a new layout Bill Flude on the same theme as his Derwent Road layout (I last saw that at Fareham), inspired by the Leighton Buzzard Railway. 

There's some lovely, subtle detailing and the setting of place and time work really well. 

It was also nice to see Charlie Insley's French St-Etienne-en-Caux in H0e. 

The terminus is reminiscent of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. 

Hook Basin by Richard Williams uses 1:25 scale and 16.5mm gauge to great effect, a simple yet engaging layout built in two "modules". This layout was also at Fareham last year. Richard pointed out the layout was over a decade old, although I still enjoy seeing it!

WWI Winter in France shows the military railways of the first world war in 009. Nice modelling of something we should never forget. 

Richard Holder's Launceston is a superb model of the characterful preserved line in 009, a favourite of mine it had a crowd around it until late afternoon so clearly it was popular. 

I also spotted this model of a Lartigue monorail tractor as used on a US mining line, and featured in Narrow Gauge and Industrial magazine, so I presume shown by the builder Adrian Garner. Yes, it does work and movement was demonstrated!

Of the standard gauge layouts, one that surprised me was James Street. It's a large N-gauge layout with multiple tracks and trains circulating - which doesn't sound like my kind of layout. However, the scenery was beautifully done even if it was squeezed between the tracks, and the harbour scene with it's detailed ships was impressive. Not just one model ship, but many of them. 

Copper Wort by Pete Goss is always a popular layout, and always worthy of another look. 

Arcadia is clearly inspired by Colonel Stevens' light railways, and modelled in S scale. This is a scale that isn't chosen for any logical reason, other than the builder wants to scratch-build as much as possible, and so is worthy of respect. Usually, as in this case, the result looks superb and performs well too. 

Next to our stand was this model of Moretonhampstead in 2mm scale. It is hard to believe it is such a small scale, it looks like P4 from stood further back!

So a large and busy show, with some excellent layouts, and nice to be back for the first time post-Covid. If the train strikes reduced numbers it wasn't obvious. 

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Wealden Railway Group exhibition - Steyning

On Sunday I visited the Wealden Railway Group exhibition in Steyning. This group's show was the last show I attended before Covid, which was the first show I exhibited Loctern Quay at, so it was nice to see the show return. This time both the halls of the Steyning Centre were used making space for more layouts, but also more space around them, at least in some places (often the show has felt quite crowded). 

The larger hall seemed poorly lit so some layouts without their own lighting were difficult to see and photograph, but here are a few shots I did get. Also, no show guide so details are from what I know or can remember.

Rhiw by Chris Ford, his usual "less is more" style applied to "modern" standard gauge, and a second version of the same theme. 

Largarand Limeworks in On30, compact but interesting with double-sided viewing. 

Simon Hargreaves showed is lovely little inglenook, which has developed scenically since I last saw it last year. 

A top view of Simon's tiny layout which fits in a box on the back of his motorbike!

Ian Roberts showed his 1:32 scale 16.5mm gauge model of the Dalmunzie railway, this was a new layout although I'd seen a previous layout of his based on the same theme, albeit more loosely. 

This nicely modelled and presented little micro is, according to Chris, a Czech layout in TT by Alan Monk.

There was a diorama competition, both these two entries were by Giles Barnabe. I like them both, but the street scene is probably my favourite. 

Monday 6 March 2023

Undergrowth, bushes and hedges

Last time I described making bushes, but undergrowth and weeds do not always form bushes. I've found an easy way to represent low weed growth. This started when applying the static grass, by building layers of longer (4mm and 6mm) grass. 

Then the grass is wiped with a brush loaded with just a little of the matt modge podge, so a little collects on the tips. The matt medium dries clear and (obviously) matt so any that would be left visible dries invisible. 

Scatter material of the ground foam variety is sprinkled onto and dabbed into the grass, where it sticks to the tips. I find a slightly darker shade than the surrounding grass works well, and sometimes use two or more shades. 

Here's a general shot of the right-hand end of the layout showing a variety of undergrowth and bushes on the river banks and the railway cutting sides. Of course, there is little undergrowth beyond the fence where sheep roam! The cocktail sticks are marking the eventual position of trees. 

There's a good growth of bushes along the riverbank too, though not obscuring the view of whatever may be in the siding or the station. I've tried to get a variety of sizes, textures and shades, but using a limited palette so none stand out. 

Behind the station there is a pleasing mix of untidy hedgerow and the post-and-wire fence, with bushes and undergrowth in front and around the back of the playground. There should be space for the odd tree too. Hopefully this makes a reasonably convincing transition from model to backscene. Now I just need to vacuum up, and crack on with some trees. 

Saturday 4 March 2023

The Nursery

After the grass and fencing the next task was to add some shrubbery - bushes and undergrowth - which abound in the sheltered parts of Dartmoor where the sheep can't reach. 

My favourite base is some old fibrous carpet underlay which I tried to dye green intending to use it for making long grass many years ago, before the days of static grass. It turned out to be the wrong sort of underlay, but by happy accident it forms a nice bushy shape when teased out, like rubberised horsehair but much finer. 

The teased-out chunks are then sprayed liberally with hairspray and coated in scatter, ensuring all sides are well covered. Sometimes the bush is dunked in a pot of scatter. I use a selection of shades and coarseness, but try to limit the range of colours. 

The bush is then stuck down with a wipe of matt medium. The hedge on the right was an Auhagen product, with a little extra teasing out and scatter added, with a few strategically planted cocktail sticks to keep it upright. 

I also use rubberised horsehair (left), which is more coarse than the underlay (right) but makes quite good brambles, and the traditional lichen (centre). 

Either way the procedure is the same - hairspray and scatter. 

Quite a few bushes would be needed...