Every so often Windows photos displays images under the ‘On This Day’ banner, and two years ago this weekend Bleddfa Road looked like this. The photo was one of over fifty that was taken to support an article that I was writing for the ‘Model Railway Journal’. This particular one didn’t make the editors cut, but that’s the way it goes.
At the time I wasn’t sure if the scene in my minds eye was going to work, so I was treading very gently. I would do a little modelling, take a few photos and then step back for a day or two. Then if I was happy I would add a little more to the scene. Progress at times has been slow but I take the view that railway modelling is my main hobby, and one to enjoy in a leisurely manner.
The same scene to today from roughly the same viewpoint…………..
To make it easier to compare the scene, use the slider to move between images.
Anyway returning to the present day I have been continuing to work on the coal merchants truck, which is being built from the excellent Classic Commercials Fordson V7 5 ton utility truck kit.
Once I have finished the cab it will be painted in the same drab colours but with black mudguards. The flatbed will hopefully be painted during the coming week, and then I can think about adding the etched mirrors, radiator grille. licence holders, wiper blades, and windscreen surround once the model has been glazed. Cast headlamps, door handles and etched No. plates will complete the build.
More photos of the AC Railcars railbus as it departs from Bleddfa Road and heads back to its owner after completing successful running trials. A lovely little model for the space starved 7mm modeller.
The owner was about to build his own track, but had been told that the model wouldn’t like his proposed 31.5mm trackwork. Due to its long wheelbase, deep wheel flanges and excessive axle side play, but it was fine on test.
Exit stage left as the railcar rumbles over the crossing for the final time…………
D2139 followed the Railcar to pastures new, and is now on loan to assist with the planning of the same friends ‘less is more’ 7mm scale adventure, which is loosely based on Ditton Priors.
Work has been continuing down at the lime kilns, which now have individual chambers. After several unsuccessful attempts at modelling them I carried on with the scenery until I came up with a solution. Having tried embossed styrene sheet and some old stone paper, I had the idea of making my own embossed card, which worked really well using nothing more than an old, empty ballpoint pen to scribe each stone. The next step involved making the inner sides of each kiln from 40 thou styrene sheet. Due to the ground around the kilns rising from left to right, and the kilns themselves tapering in width from right to left the sides of each kiln had to be measured and cut to size in situ. Each part was then marked, and the kilns were removed from the layout, the final assembly being carried out on the workbench. Card was then offered up, cut to shape and the stone courses were scribed to match the exterior walls before forming the inner arches.
Two of the kiln chambers can just be seen in this view, they were painted with grey and burnt sienna watercolours. A new stone wall has been made from 3mm ply covered in ‘DAS’, and that brings my stone carving exploits to an end. Various bushes have sprung up and all that is need.ed now is a small tree alongside the end wall of the kilns, which if I get it right will help blend the kilns into the backscene.
The grass along the embankment has grown a bit more over the last week, and continues to be layered up in patches using my ‘Flockit’, yes I’ve spelt the right, static grass applicator. The fibres are a mix of Woodland 12mm medium and light green, the latter being applied over the darker fibres. Some areas are being covered in patches of coarse burnt turf to break things up.
More weeds and grass have grown around the siding and in front of the kilns, and two large stone (DAS) gate posts now mark the entrance to the site. Lime is no longer produced here, but the larger kilns beyond the road bridge are still in full production. If anyone is interested in lime kilns then there are plenty of photos and some information on this interesting website………………..
How this AC Cars railbus ended up at Bleddfa Road is a long story, suffice to say that it isn’t mine. Though one was seen passing through Leominster on its way north in January 1967, that is the nearest one got to Bleddfa Road.
Inspiration for the limekilns came from a sketch by Gordon Gravett which appears in his book titled, ‘7mm Modelling (Building a Layout Pt.2). When originally planning the layout I had the idea of modelling a simple timber loading dock, or an MOD depot. The later would have allowed me to indulge in an air ministry tank wagon or two, but the more I thought about it the less likely such a depot would have existed at Bleddfa Road. So it came down to a straight choice between a small limekiln or a timber dock, either one would have been feasible for the real village of Bleddfa is close to the Radnor Forest, and the lime quarries at Dolyhir. As usual the question of space ruled its ugly head, and I came to the conclusion that some small lime kilns would would be the answer.
To recap the structure was made from 3mm Palight foamboard, as was the small office. I left both of them on the layout until my eye adjusted to them. A few changes were made to the height of the kilns and once I was happy with the look of things out came the ‘DAS’ modelling clay. The foamboard surfaces were first covered in a good quality neat PVA, the modelling clay was then pressed into it and left to harden for a week.
Once the ‘DAS’ had dried out it was sanded down, some areas needed patching with more clay, and then some horizontal and vertical guide lines were pencilled in. The position of the stone arches were marked out at the same time. I can only scribe so many stones at a time before my fingers seize up, one of the joys of old age!
With the stonework scribed and cleaned up I made a start on carving the yard surface.
With all the carving completed a start was made on painting the stonework which is a mix of grey, white and burnt sienna artist acrylics. Rainwater goods were fitted to the cottage, and clumps of Silflor and static grasses were gradually added as I composed the scene. A stone wall is in the process of being modelled and a 2D tree will hopefully help blend the end of the kilns into the backscene.
The office which is a separate structure has now gained a scribed styrene door, and is mounted within a wooden frame. The window was made from card as were the roofing slates.
Static grasses continue to be layered up and a few details are yet to be added.
If you have Gordon Gravetts book that I mentioned earlier then you might see the similarity between his sketch and my interpretation of it in this view.
The last time I posted an update on the cottage I was about to weather the roof, but my plans for a more detailed finish just didn’t look right. To be on the safe side I had experimented on the rear roof, but no harm was done for it still looks fine to me. Sometimes prototype detail doesn’t work in model form, which I am told is due to the manner in which we view our models., so I decided to keep things simple for now. It is possible that I might discover a new technique some time in the future, and if so I will try again.
The hip sections of the roof now have gutters with wings, which would have diverted any rainwater onto the rear of the main roof. More weathering has taken place using Precision weathered wood and dirty black enamels, which have been dry brushed over the stone, and woodwork. A dusting of talcum powder whilst the paint was still tacky blended everything together and give a faded look. Curtains cut from paper painted with water colours were then hung in place.
I decided to use cobble stones for the paths around the cottage, each cobble being formed from small pieces of ‘DAS’ modelling clay rolled twixt finger and thumb. Once that part of the job was out of the way a plaster slurry was dribbled between the cobbles. The surface of the backyard was made from ‘DAS’, and scribed to represent random flagstones.
There is still plenty of detail to add in the yard, which is being modelled in an overgrown neglected state. The raised beds would probably been used to grow vegetables and salad crops. An old rusty 45 gallon drum is acting as a water butt, which might well be leaking seeing as it is empty. Weeds are pushing their way up between the flags and brambles are quickly taking the area over.
I still have plenty of long grasses to plant in front of the cottage and elsewhere come to that. It is one of those jobs that will have to be done a little at a time, for if it is overdone it just won’t look right.
Short static grasses applied with my old faithful ‘puffer bottle’ were applied between and the cobble stones. The grasses have since been trimmed back a little, the downpipe was knocked out of alignment by a clumsy modeller and has since been correctly centred over the etched drain grid.
This is Slater’s fencing, painted with Humbrol 64 light grey before being dry brushed with Precision weathered wood, and Humbrol 80 grass green enamels. The walls around the yard were made from some 3mm ply that I had lying around, and covered with Slater’s embossed stone sheet. A mix of neat PVA and plaster was then applied on the inside surfaces to create a lime wash finish. In some places the plaster mix hasn’t adhered, thus flaking off to reveal the stonework underneath.
When I started to plan Bleddfa Road the cottage was intended to act a view blocker for a cassette deck. But I then decided to model a scenic fiddleyard instead, the idea being to make the most of the space available to me. Much to my surprise and delight the cottage also acted as a very good view blocker when looking in the other direction toward the the station as well. This was totally unplanned and yet ever so effective, as can be seen in the photo below, lucky or what?
I’ve been surprised just how quickly the layout is coming together now, the limekilns are now taking shape and once complete I’ll be focusing on the scenery again. Through the winter months I also hope to continue work on my Diag. E147 coach, build a few more Slater’s wagon kits and weather some of my existing locomotives and stock. But for now I will leave you with this spoiler…………….
I took the camera down to the limekiln siding last week to capture this view of the station. It wasn’t really possible to take a half decent photo from this angle until the cottage, and its perimeter wall had been dropped in place, but they now block the view of my modelling room nicely, thus opening up some interesting new photo opportunities.
I intend planting a small tree, or group of saplings inside the fence, which will hopefully mask part of the hill on the backscene, which from this angle looks unnatural to my eye.
The peace and quiet was soon shattered as 7719 arrived with the pick up goods. The camera has captured the different track levels, and gentle cant of the curve nicely.
I only intended having a single 7400 class Pannier tank, but the Minerva Models 5700 class with its riveted tanks was just too tempting. Strange as it may seem I never really liked these locos until recently, preferring the more modern looking 8750 class, and yes I have one of those as well. The fence around the cottage isn’t finished yet, and was just being tried in place to see if it worked when this photo was taken.
The cottage was still a little too chocolate box in its appearance when this photo was taken, but as more weathering and undergrowth appears it is beginning to look more neglected.
7719 makes her way slowly down to the limekilns to collect a solitary open wagon. The kilns themselves are coming along nicely now, but it has been hard going scribing the stonework. sorry but they are not yet ready to face the camera.
Having shunted the yard and made up a train of empties 7719 heads back to Presteign and beyond.
I don’t know why but I have always hated modelling gutters and drainpipes, but since Modelu introduced a range of 3D prints for the various fittings the job has become a whole lot easier. I first used Alan’s products when modelling the station building and had enough fittings left over for the cottage, I was however short of some guttering so decided to make my own from Maquett half round styrene section and Slater’s 40 thou sheet. Nothing wrong with the Modelu guttering I hasten to add, it was just a case of only needing a single section. The brackets were fashioned by cutting 1.5 mm strips from self adhesive labels. Look hard and you might just be able to see them, hopefully they will show up better once painted. There is another identical gutter and drainpipe on the other side of the building.
With all the rainwater goods in place the building is now ready for painting and weathering, I’ll also be adding some tatty faded curtains. The roof is going to pose a few problems seeing that it is to the front of the layout and in full view, so I’m going to experiment by painting a subtle version of this real roof. Naturally the roof which is out of view will receive the treatment first!
I’ve also been making more unkempt hedging using ideas and techniques as suggested by Gordon Gravett in his articles and books. It is going to be a hard act to follow but there is no harm in trying, and experimenting to see which method suits me best.
Gordon suggests using small pieces of teased out rubberized horsehair which can be grouped together, rather then to model a complete hedge in one go. The idea is to produce an open hedge that can be seen through in places. The cocktail sticks were used to hold each piece of horsehair in place whilst it was sprayed with Montana matt artist acrylic varnish and sprinkled with foliage. The sticks can also be trimmed, painted and used to secure the hedging in place. The examples shown above were my first attempts , the clumps of hedging being teased out even further and trimmed before being planted on the layout.
One of my friends can’t believe how much I spend on scenic materials, preferring the budget ranges that can be found in most model shops. But things have moved on from the days of simple scatter and lichen, military modellers and our friends overseas are years ahead of most railway modellers here in the UK. Having read good reviews of the Footpath Scenic’s range of materials in the model press I have been trying them for myself. The above photo shows three shades of their fast foliage, which are from left to right…. medium green, wild green and burnt green.
The first section of hedging was laid at the bottom of the station approach and to my eye it blends into the backscene rather well. The bushes between the tracks are nothing more than odd bits of Seamoss that have been sprayed with the same matt varnish and dipped into a blend of Woodland Scenic’s foliage, before being planted into the ground stem by stem.
A case of spot the difference, if you compare this photo with the one above you will see that a few more pieces of hedging have been planted, and one of the painted hedgerows on the backscene has been extended down the field to join the modelled one.
I’ve slowly been working my way along the station approach track trying various pieces of of hedging, juggling them about until they looked right when viewed from different angles.
Individual strands of long bleached grass will be planted around the base of the hedging and fencing to finish things off. Assuming that I am not in a strait jacket after doing that I’ll then be adding some grass tufts along the centre of the station approach, followed by more hedging on the other side of it.
This is how cottage looks now with its rainwater goods fitted and in its current surroundings. I say current because a small tree will eventually be planted beyond the fencing to the left of the far crossing gate, and the ground around the building will be worked up a little more.
In my previous post I mention how I was undecided as to the type of fencing that would best suit the area opposite the cottage on the other side of the lane. In the end I tried another hedgerow and think it works well, I’ll leave things for a few days before committing myself.
I rather like this view with its mix of building materials, the limekilns can just be made out to the right of the brake van. I’ve cheated by adding the stonework, bushes and a tree with my photo editing software, just to give an idea as to how things will look. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to complete the cottage and its yard, along with the limekilns. The basic scenery should be completed pretty soon as well, leaving me free to add those small details and to concentrate on building and weathering my locos and stock.
A few weeks ago the last auto train for Presteign, Kington and Leominster left Bleddfa Road. There was no brass band, civic ceremony or detonators placed on the rails to see it on its way. After all it wasn’t the last train to depart pending closure of the line, it was just a case of the auto trailer being withdrawn from service. The coach had initially been loaned to me by one of my friends so that I could plot the curve of the station platform, and when he threw in the towel as regards his 7mm modelling plans he offered it to me for a knock down price. At that time I had no plans to operate a passenger service, but it was hard to turn down the offer of such a lovely model, and the rest as they say is history.
If my Diag. E147 coach turns out half decent then my AEC Railcar could also be departing for pastures new. Had the Evergreen container ship not run aground in the Suez Canal earlier this year then she would never had arrived in the first place, for I had ordered a Dapol Class 122. But with the model stranded on board it ended up being replaced by the AEC, and to be honest I think it was a better choice. It certainly looks at home in the photo below………..
Judging from the photos that I have of these railcars they seem to have been kept relatively clean, hardly surprising really seeing as they had a tendency to catch fire thanks to oil leaks and spills. So when it comes to weathering a little roof dirt and exhaust stains, along with some track and frame dirt on the bogies and around the buffers should suffice. Those wiper arms and blades will obviously need toning down as well. Whilst on the subject of weathering 7719 is now coming along nicely……
Both the chimney and cab roof have now had a light wash of Lifecolor burnt black. The frames have had an initial coat of dirty black and I’ve been experimenting with the colour of the coupling rods, which in this case is a mix of Lifecolor dirty black and frame dirt. I’ll be doing the wheels next and then a few light areas of rust will begin to appear around the brakes, their hangers and pull rods.
Now for a progress report, once again the cottage has been put on the backburner as I wanted to complete the lineside fencing. The above photo shows how I saw things developing in my minds eye, and the lower one shows progress to date.
The sign nearest the camera is headed Great Western Railway and advises that the road if you can call it that is private, and for access to the station only. A start has been made on staining the fencing with Lifecolor frame dirt of all things, yet it gives a rather pleasing effect when brushed onto the card components.
The view looking across the crossing as it is today, I’ve not made my mind up about the fencing in the foreground, and also have a choice of gates. No doubt I’ll try various ideas and take a few photos before deciding.
Early this morning 7416 was captured in charge of the pick up goods, which included two wagons for Ellis Roberts the coal merchant and a covered van containing who knows what. Both signs are from the MSE range and have been mounted on posts made from scrap rail.
The Modelu crew await painting along with a couple of other figures, yet another job to add to the to do list. So having brought things up to date it only remains to mention a new arrival.
5807 was built at Swindon in 1933 and allocated from new to Leominster a sub shed Hereford. She remained at Leominster for her entire life until being withdrawn June 1957. A regular on passenger trains between Leominster and New Radnor she is believed to have carried number plates with a red background at some point between 1947 and 1952, but that is not for certain. I have once again use the excellent Railtec 3D printed transfers to renumber the model, the next job will involve moving the tool boxes so they are central to the leading wheel splashers, a couple of lamp irons will also need repositioning. She will then join the queue for extra detailing and weathering.
Finally, my previous post, ‘Black & White Night’ certainly went down well, in fact it has turned out to be my most post popular ever if my blog stats are to be believed? Which begs the question, is it worth writing to explain my why I do things my way and mentioning the various techniques and products that I use, when plain or captioned photos appear to be more popular? It would certainly make things easier for me that is for sure, it might also explain why most of the mainstream modelling magazines are packed full of photos and videos to download rather than text. Plenty of food for thought there.
After almost two months of enforced inactivity whilst the medical profession tested me for everything apart from foot and mouth disease, I now have an accurate diagnosis, am receiving excellent treatment and am finally on the mend. It appears that my auto immune system has been having an argument with some of my muscles. Why that should be is currently unknown, but my body has taken a pounding from radiation and side effects are par for the course. I am now clear of cancer, but still have another year of treatment just to be on the safe side. We read and hear such negative things about our NHS, yet when the crap hits the fan they are superb. So light household and garden chores are now back on the agenda along with a little modelling. Over the past couple of months I have been doing plenty of pondering and research. I did have plans for a small diorama based on the stone crushing plant on the Whitehaven branch near Porthywaen, and even went as far as purchasing motive power in the form of an ‘E’ class Peckett and a Class 03 shunter. Alas that idea has now been dropped, after all I have Bleddfa Road to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. Some friends expected the layout to be finished by now, but rather than throw things down with little, or no thought I have taken my time, studying the prototype and natural world before committing myself to each stage of the project. To ease myself back into modelling I have been out taking photos of a neighbours cottage roof, which acted as a handy colour reference for when I came to paint the slates on my model.
Obviously this roof looks completely different on a dull or wet day, but I thought it a good idea to use these slate colours as a starting point. As usual I have gone for a subtle touch using muted shades of grey.
The cottage has also gained doors to the front and rear, and the yard is slowly taking shape. Once the rainwater goods have been made and fitted the whole building will be weathered. The slates are from postcard, cut into strips and then nicked to represent individual slates. An old modelling technique if ever there was one but it works for me.
The cottage yard complete with its surrounding wall, coal house and outside loo. I’ve used leftover pieces of Slater’s stone sheet for this job, which until earlier this week had been put on hold. But now I can hold craft tools comfortably again I gave the yard walls a coat plaster, with a little PVA thrown into the mix to help it adhere to the embossed sheet, prevent cracking and to create a sort of lime washed stone effect.
The rear of the cottage and its yard, the grass in the foreground is my usual Silflor / static grass, and Woodland Scenic’s coarse turf mix. Whilst that on the right has been added using my photo editing software just to give an idea of what I have in mind. I’m not sure if I will model a hedge or some timber fencing along the path?
A cruel close up of the yard complete with outside loo and coal house, the latter no doubt being kept topped up from the bunkers of passing locomotives. Drinking water would have probably arrived at Bleddfa Road in churns, similar to the way in which Titley Junction was supplied until an ex six wheeled milk tanker was pressed into service. Strange to think that some areas still had no mains water, electricity or gas supplies well into the sixties, my maternal grandparents cottage being an example of that
Had all gone to plan then the lineside fencing would have been completed by now, but at the moment that is another job that is going nowhere fast. Then again the delay has given me the chance to look at the scenery again, especially where the fence or hedgerow comes close to the backscene near the level crossing, at the moment I’m in favour of something like this, a case of modelling what I see rather than trying to make things up as I go along.
Another stalled project involved the weathering of 7719, her wheels and coupling rods have yet to receive attention, along with her brakes and their pull rods. I’m rather happy with her appearance and finish considering that she was only brush painted with thinned ‘Lifecolor’ dirty black acrylic paint. Though I have always been happy to weather my 4mm stock I wasn’t too confident about doing the same with my 7mm models. Finally, I plucked up the courage to make a start, which was perhaps the most difficult part of the whole process. It amazes me to think that at one time I didn’t particularly like the ‘5700’ class, but after seeing this Minerva model with its riveted pannier tanks my attitude changed.
Whether 7719 ever visited the Kington Railways I will never know, but being a local Hereford engine it is certainly possible.
The eagle eyed might notice that the brake van has now been numbered and lettered, still some more weathering to carry out but it is coming along nicely.
I mentioned the arrival of a Class 03 at the beginning of the post, so what is all that about? Well ever since I built the old Airfix kit light years ago I have had a soft spot for the small Drewry shunters. In those days there were no motorizing kits so my model was nothing more than a static exhibit. I had been considering the purchase of a Minerva Class 14 but decided that it would be too big amongst other things, and then I chanced upon a damaged, none running Heljan Class 03. I contacted the seller and he sent me full details of what he described as being a complete ‘cluster****’. Apparently he wasn’t happy with the models deformed running plate (see below), which is a common fault on these models. So having read an account of correcting the fault on one of the modelling forums he tried to rectify the problem. However during the dismantling and reassembly of the model he caused no end of damage.
So to cut along story short, after checking the availability of spare parts I made him an offer for the model.
On stripping the model down in an attempt to get it working I came across this modification. I carried out the same mod. on the other side, very poor quality control by Heljan considering the price of the model! I also understood why so much damage had been caused, for it is not the easiest of models to dismantle. So far so good, but when I tested the model it stuttered along with its interior lights flashing as if there was a short somewhere. Not being a fan of working lights or other gimmicks I turned the interior lights off using the hidden switch, and then watched the model purr along smoothly and quietly, I couldn’t believe my luck
That running plate needs a tad more fettling, as for the lighting fault, well with no obvious wiring faults I will leave well alone. Replacement cab numbers are by Railtec, new front steps and pipework complete the repairs on this side. A choice of exhaust came with the model and I’m still undecided as to which I will use. Those bright window frames will be knocked back followed by a very light weathering.
Here she is with a stovepipe exhaust along with a new air tank and front steps, why D2139 ? Well on Sunday the 26th June 1960 she was spotted on shed at Worcester 85A, four other members of the class are known to have joined her over the following months. As a matter of interest AEC Railcars W20/26/29 were also present on the same day. Could she have ventured onto the Kington Railways on trial perhaps in its final days? I guess that is something that we will never know, and one of the advantages of modelling a feasible might have been model of a railway. Over the coming months I hope to finish these projects before turning my attention to the limekilns. Next year should see the locos and rolling stock painted, weathered and detailed, must say that its good to be back!
Last week my health took a sudden turn for the worse, and at the moment any thoughts of modelling have been put on hold as I battle the late, unexpected after effects of radiotherapy. So with nothing new to share it might be a while before the blog is updated. Don’t get me wrong for I’m not giving up, I’m just tired and am in a lot of discomfort. My concentration is also suffering, which doesn’t make for good modelling sessions.