Das Bridge……..

For the past month I have been busy making wire armatures for some trees and unkempt hedgerows. It is the sort of job that favours batch building, but before long my arthritic fingers began to ache and I had to take a break. So looking for a supposedly easier job I decided to cover the shell of the overbridge with DAS modelling clay, prior to carving stonework into its surface. You could be excused for thinking that I had swapped one tedious job for another, but I find carving DAS to be a rather relaxing. I also decided to experiment with a mirror in hope of creating the illusion of the line continuing into the distance beyond the bridge. I used the same dodge on my previous layout Llangunllo, the thinnest mirror that I could find at that time was 3mm thick, which made the job of blending the mirror into the bridge abutments rather difficult, due to the prismatic effect created around the mirror edge.

I use a couple of cake decorating tools for carving DAS, which fit nicely into my pin vices. In this photo the stonework is almost complete, the tree armature is meant for another location down in the goods yard, and is currently being coated in bark mix. A large Elm tree which is also under construction will be planted in this spot, and the Silflor grass mat that surrounds it will then be torn into clumps, and mixed with other scenic materials and static grasses. In case you are wondering the rail has been cleaned in certain areas prior to fitting fishplates, hence the shiny section in this view. How I managed to fit the 4mm scale equivalents is beyond me!

Stone carving tools as mentioned in the text

I had experimented with mirror card on Llangunllo, which can be found in any decent craft shop, but it wasn’t clear enough for the job in hand. Then by chance I came across an emergency car mirror repair kit.

These are designed to fit over a damaged wing mirror glass by using a self adhesive backing, best of all the material is only 1mm thick and can be trimmed to size using scissors. It all sounded too good to be true but nevertheless I parted with a fiver and this is what turned up in the post a couple of days later……..

The surface was just as good as the acrylic mirror that I had used on Llangunllo, but it does benefit from a card backing to keep the surface flat and prevent any distortion. Bearing in mind that any backing needs to be cut undersize to keep it well clear of the mirror edges.

The bridge today looks a bit different now that the stonework has been painted and weathered. I started off by painting the bridge abutments in different shades of grey acrylic. Individual stones were then picked out and dry brushed with Precision Paints weathered wood enamel. Then with the paint still tacky a blend of soot, ash and rust weathering powders were brushed onto the surface. The wooden bridge span was painted in the same weathered wood enamel, before being dry brushed with Humbrol 110 natural wood, and 64 matt grey enamels. A light dusting of Johnsons baby powder followed which gives a nice faded look. The tree is an old one from Llangunllo and not the elm that I mentioned previously. It has just been plonked there as an aid to planning the scene along with the grass that surrounds it.

Meanwhile down in the goods yard work continues on an unkempt hedgerow….

The wire armatures in this view have been made from 30 gauge florist wire, which has the advantage of being paper coated, so PVA can be brushed over the wire to bind everything together. Bark mix will be applied next and once dry it will be painted. Teased horse hair will then be fixed to the branches and foliage will then be applied. This is pure Gordon Gravett and very time consuming, but if I can capture the open airy look of Gordon’s hedgerows then it will be time well spent. The small trees to the right aren’t as open because I wanted to create an area of dark shadow to help disguise the yard approach as it nears the backscene.

Well that more or less brings everything up to date, thanks for reading.


This view appeared in an earlier post as a mock up, and this is how it appears today now that it has been modelled. The fence and gate have yet to be secured in place as they are awaiting a spot of weathering. They will be heavily rusted as will a gatepost at the other side of the lane.


7 thoughts on “Das Bridge……..

  1. I’m confused.
    You state that the armature under construction was for another location, but then one with bark and foliage appears in the same place.
    Would a tree be allowed to take root so close to a bridge abutment?


    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Simon.

      Quote from the text, “The tree is an old one from Llangunllo and not the elm that I mentioned previously. It has just been plonked there as an aid to planning the scene along with the grass that surrounds it”.

      I thought that would have explained everything, as for the tree being close to the abutment it is actually propping the tree up so I could take a photo, and look at the scene from different angles 🙂


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  2. Another interesting update Geoff, everything is all coming together very nicely – I’m sure the local birds will appreciate that hedgerow now we’re into nesting season! I’m probably being thick here (not the first time!) but when you say you blended the mirror into the bridge abutments does that mean it effectively blocks the track at the other side of the bridge making that the end of the line? I’d always thought it was to block the view into the fiddle yard?


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    1. Hi Keith and thanks for your comment.

      The mirror is situated behind the bridge, which marks the end of the scenic fiddleyard, and its reflection in the mirror is meant to give the illusion of the line continuing in the direction of Presteign. The crossing keepers cottage helps block the view of the scenic fiddle yard from the rest of the layout.


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