Last Post For Christmas……….

As Christmas draws closer modelling has more or less been put on hold for this year. But before I cleared my workbench I managed to complete another wagon kit. I might even get around to painting and weathering a few more wagons before the New Year depending on how I feel.

This old kit dates back to the 1980’s, and was one of a range of GWR wagon kits designed and produced by Richard Webster, of Ratio and now Dapol fame. I had already built the GWR 16 Ton brake van and was very impressed with both the quality and fit of the components, so when I decided to model another mineral wagon this kit was top of my list.

Though the kit is rather old the quality of the components are every bit as good as those to be found in the latest kits, perhaps even better in some cases! Everything fitted perfectly, though I thought the opening side door hinges were a bit flimsy. Not being a fan of such gimmicks that didn’t concern me one bit so I cemented them closed. The kit also boasts working axle box springs but in my opinion they are far to stiff to be of any real use. Nevertheless the completed wagon rolls very smoothly through points and along the track.

No need to tell you which wagon is the latest to be built. I read somewhere that the body gussets are incorrect, well I guess someone would have to find fault. But as I have grown older such things no longer bother me, and once again I quote one of my old modelling chums. “Shape, colour and texture are just as important as strict attention to detail” This trio of wagons will be joined by another Slater’s 7-plank open in the New Year, and that should be enough to keep the locals supplied with coal.

Weathering is once again on the light side and was achieved by using the same paints, powders and techniques as employed on its sister wagon.

I had been searching high and low for a suitable truck for the coal merchant, fortunately for me D.J.Parkins has reintroduced the ‘Classic Commercials’ range, and this particular vehicle is ideal for the small yard at Bleddfa Road….

https://www.djparkins.com/home.php?cat=357

I am old enough to remember the old Fordson V7 5 ton utility trucks even though they date back to 1937! The kit comprises a one piece resin cab and cab interior together with some superb castings, and a stainless steel etch for the window surrounds, radiator grill, mirrors etc, etc. Naturally I couldn’t resist having a dry run with some of the larger components.

The truck can be built as a flatbed or drop side, apologies for the poor photo but I didn’t want to remove the smaller castings from their polybags for fear of losing any of them. You can find some photos and information here if you are interested in commercial vehicles. https://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/fordson-7v.htm.

Finally another two photos of 1455 fussing about in the yard…………

Merry Christmas

Geoff

Dark Winter Nights………

I have never gone along with the idea of dark winter nights being ideal for modelling. Instead I find myself going into hibernation mode, making myself comfy with a good book, or perhaps a selection of modelling magazines from years past. Any modelling at this time of year usually takes place early in the morning, long before the light begins to fade. So I have turned my attention to completing a few simple projects that could be worked on from the comfort of my favourite chair. I started off by weathering my Dapol 16T mineral wagon, and then painted and lettered a couple of kit built wagons.

Starting with the mineral wagon I first searched for a couple of photos showing the sort of finish that I was after. Better to model what you see rather than make things up as you go along. All too often the poor old mineral wagon is modelled in a heavily weathered condition, looking more like condemned wagons rather than those still in service. Yes they did suffer from neglect, but if you look at photos of typical goods trains from the mid 1950’s through to the early 1960’s some look rather new. No surprises there for they were still being built, repaired and refurbished.

With this particular wagon I have tried to capture the appearance of the early signs of corrosion. The chassis was painted in Lifecolor weathered black followed by gentle washes of Lifecolor frame dirt, and brake dust pigments. I used Humbrol light and dark earth to create the rust patches, which were then stippled with various rust weathering powders whilst still wet. Black patches for the ‘Railtec’ lettering were hand painted with the same weathered black, the lettering was applied and then the body was given several light washes of Lifecolor smoke.

These two wagons have been waiting for a coat of paint for over a year. To be honest I had lost confidence in my usual choice of enamels, which lacked consistency. I could never be sure how they would cover or dry. So having heard good things about ‘Lifecolor’ acrylics I invested in a selection of colours and weathering pigments. Money well spent in my opinion for I am finding them to be superb, and that is from someone who couldn’t previously get on with acrylics! Both models were brush painted in BR unfitted grey, the chassis was painted in weathered black and the roof in, well roof dirt. Lettering is from the Railtec range, and both wagons now await a touch of weathering. The 5-plank open is meant to represent a Diag. 04 and is one of the old Coopercraft kits which are now marketed by Slater’s. Rather than build the kit as intended I have modelled it to represent one of the wagons taken into the RCH pool in 1927. So the Dean / Churchward brake gear as supplied with the kit has been replaced with the RCH pattern, and the sheet rails have not been fitted. The various ex GWR opens are a bit of a minefield, and in this case I have referred to the notes with the kit and various photos. I am not claiming that the model is 100% accurate, but I am happy with it. The kit is designed to be built in rigid form and runs just as well as some of my other wagons which are compensated, a lesson to be learned there I think?

The covered van which was built from a Parkside kit has been modelled to represent one of the last unfitted V24 versions. This kit presented a few challenges due to the poor fit of the body components around the corner angle irons and the amount of vertical slop in the axle boxes. The latter being designed to move freely up and down without any means of control. It is possible to install a crude form of springing, but I placed the model on a piece of glass, cemented the axle boxes in place and found that the van rolled extremely well in rigid form. The gaps around the angle irons were filled with pieces of microstrip and then dressed with nail boards and fine wet and dry paper.

The next job in the queue was the platelayers hut, though I don’t set myself deadlines I planned on having the hut in place on the layout by the end of the year. It is a scaled up version of my old Coopercraft model, which featured on both Penhydd and Llangunllo. The basic shell was constructed from 60 thou styrene sheet, Evergreen strip and Slater’s embossed brick. The door and window shutter planking was created with an Olfa Scriber, and all the hinges are from styrene strip.

I did consider modelling a corrugated iron or felt roof, which would be perhaps more appropriate for a building of this type. But then thought it would provide a good test bed for using individual card slates, as I’m going to need plenty of those for the crossing keepers cottage!

Two postcards were painted in to represent slates by mixing white and black acrylic paints. The slates on the 4mm model scaled out at 12″ square for the visible area, so I made my 7mm slates the same scale size plus a small margin for the overlap. Each slate was then laid along guide lines marked on the roof and secured with dilute PVA. It is not as boring as you might think and the roof was soon complete. I made several larger slates as older buildings seem to have been patched up with whatever was to hand around the village where I live. The hut was painted with ‘Lifecolor’ weathered black, and weathered with washes of Lifecolor smoke and rail dust. Ridge tiles are from 20 thou sheet, and half round styrene section, they were painted in Railmatch brick and toned down with the same washes. The chimney was painted with Humbrol light earth enamel and dry brushed with weathered black to represent soot deposits, the whole model was then given a dusting of talc and a 3D printed chimney from ‘Model Railway Scenes’ completed the build. The oil drum is also from the same ‘Model Railway Scenes’, I would provide a link but WordPress is being awkward at the moment.

The scene is far from complete, long static grasses will eventually be added around the hut. A gate will provide access from the road and the whole area will be enclosed with spear fencing. Some rusted drums will litter the area and those sleepers will end up being buried amongst the undergrowth with them. I can also see a push bike propped up against one of the walls. It is a waste of time adding those details until the scenery has been completed along the station approach, as I only would run the risk of causing damage.

I doubt much work will be carried out on the layout until well into the New Year now, but I will continue to work on some more goods wagons, and might even weather 7719.

Geoff

Station Building Pt2………….

The last time the station building appeared in these pages it had received a base coat of paint and was ready for a little weathering. That job is now complete with several sheets of corrugated iron having been dry brushed with mixes of Precision paints dirty black, weathered wood and Humbrol matt leather and dark earth enamels. Sap green acrylic was dry brushed where water stains might have formed around drain pipes, and along the bottom of the building. I worked the various weathering process up gently, doing a little at a time and then taking a step back to look at things again before proceeding. I’m not one for heavy weathering, preferring a more subtle approach which I feel looks far more realistic. Rainwater goods were painted in Humbrol chocolate enamel, and then given a dusting of talcum powder to create a weatherworn, faded appearance.

A stove pipe chimney was added above the waiting room, and a simpler one above the ticket office and store. Door frames were made from basswood strip, and painted with a mix of Precision weathered wood and Humbrol matt white enamel, most of the latter being rubbed away to create a weatherworn neglected appearance. As an experiment I made the window frames from styrene, rather than the self adhesive labels as used for the goods yard huts. I felt that something with a better defined relief detail was needed for a building that would take centre stage on the layout. I did take a look at various cast resin, and lasercut window frames but couldn’t find anything of the correct size. Three different sizes of frame were needed, two identical 4 pane frames for the front of the building, a slightly smaller one for the end elevation and an even small one of a completely different style for the WC.

The frames are rather flimsy until they are built up with the various overlays, but once the solvent has set they are strong enough to be cleaned up with files. Glazing was from clear PTEC sheet, glued in place with Canopy Glue.

With the window frames installed I took a selection of photos to see how the building looked prior to adding poster boards, and continuing with the weathering.

The S&T department has been busy preparing the building for a connection to the rest of the railway system. Once the scenery has been completed then the lines and wiring will be connected, to do so at this stage of the build would only result in them being damaged.

The corrugated sheeting has been deliberately distressed in hope of creating an air of neglect. Poster boards were constructed from styrene sheet to match the size of the Tiny Signs posters. The WC glazing was sprayed with ‘Testors Dull Coat’ to make it appear opaque. More grass and weeds are needed on the platform surface, I mentioned in a previous post how I see an unkempt hedgerow spilling over, and through the fence onto the platform. A couple of enamel advertising signs will appear on the fencing, along with some fire buckets which are currently being painted. Though I suspect the powers that be would be more than happy to see the building burn to the ground. Etched drain covers from MSE have been let into the platform surface below each downpipe, not that you can easily see them.

Both the doors and their frames have hardly any paint left on them. To be honest two dodgy tins of enamel paint was the cause of that. For despite plenty of stirring both doors ended up in a horrid, tacky, gloss mess, which still hadn’t dried after a week! Normally a light dusting of talcum powder would have acted as a matting agent, and salvaged the situation, but on this occasion the dodge didn’t work. So there was nothing I could do other than strip the doors back to plain styrene, and start all over again with a different type and shade of paint.

I did plan to return to working on the scenery next, but will be turning my attention to painting and weathering some goods wagons, and completing the platelayers hut.

The first train to call………………….

A quiet spell at an all but deserted Bleddfa Road.

Geoff

Bleddfa From The Air……………….

I can’t say that I am a fan of the helicopter shot, so normally I would only take them for planning purposes. But following a recent request for a birds eye view of the layout I came up with these photos, which may be the last for a couple of months as I am about to start a course of radiotherapy for my prostate cancer. I was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year and am now halfway through my treatment. My problem was caught early and I’m told that I have a 95% chance of being cured completely. So guys please get yourselves checked out, it doesn’t take long and isn’t painful. Anyway having got that off my chest lets get back to modelling. The first two photos show how the layout has developed over the last two years.

Then and now, this was the scene on the 23rd November 2019, and this is how it looks today……………

The only change of plan was to replace the signal cabin with a ground frame, which for me, works far better. Following a few simple modifications the cabin lived to see another day as the goods yard office. The narrow cart track that leads up to the station, is very similar to one close to where I live. But my model cart track is in far better repair at the moment, but it will become increasingly distressed as the scene is developed.

Had everything gone to plan then I would have weathered the station building by now, and would have been well on the way to finishing the building off. But life, as I explained earlier has got in the way and slowed me down.

Another job to be put on hold is the telegraph poles, I couldn’t make my mind up between those produced by Duncan Models which feature a wooden post, or the Peco plastic kit. In the end I decided to use the latter as it is easier to construct different types of posts. I have been very impressed with the Peco 7mm kits, which in my opinion are light years ahead of their 4mm scale products. Dave Stone of Sherton Abbas fame wrote a very interesting and useful article on using the Peco telegraph poles which can be found here……………………..

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blogs/entry/22259-telegraph-poles/

The final photo shows what I have in mind for this section of the layout, and perhaps this time next year it will be all but complete.

Geoff

Station Building Pt 1………….

Two years have passed since I drew up plans for Bleddfa Road’s station building. I liked the idea of model something cheap and cheerful, the sort of structure that might have been provided as a temporary measure. A corrugated iron structure like the one which once stood Llanrhaiadr Mochnant on the ‘Tanat Valley Railway’ appealed to me, but I was unsure if it would fit into the scene that I planned to model. The real building underwent many changes over the years, following the withdrawal of passenger services the ladies WC was replaced by an office. It is believed that an extra door was added to the main building at the same time. Liking a bit of artistic freedom I decided that my version of the building would feature the ladies WC, and the extra door.

Throwing caution to the wind I made the shell of the building from 3mm Palight foamboard and card. It was designed to fit into an aperture cut into the platform surface, thus providing additional strength and avoiding an unsightly joint line between the building and platform. At the time I was still feeling my way in 7mm scale, still am come to that, so I didn’t rush the model. But straight from the off I made a mistake, as there shouldn’t be a window in the side elevation that faces the approach road. Still it was easy enough to blank it out, and once the walls were clad in Slater’s corrugated sheet nobody would have been the wiser if I hadn’t mentioned it.

With the goods shed completed, and with the station building rapidly taking shape I began to get that all important feeling of place. Though this scene is far from complete I can imagine myself walking up to the station. The small structure is the ladies WC, and should really be attached to the other end of the building to provide a little more privacy. A small hinged flap was provided at the base of the WC for removing, what I assume would be have been an Elsan chemical toilet bucket.

I had always found rainwater goods to be a bit of a pain when modelling in 4mm scale and reckon I must have tried every method going. Then along came Alan Buttler with his new architectural detailing components. My examples were very nicely printed, and fitted together perfectly, I would certainly recommend them!

At this stage of the build the main gutter had been fitted in place, but the one along the end and its downpipe were only Blu- tacked in place.

The Modelu figure scales out at 5ft 6″ high (1.68m) and has proved invaluable throughout the whole layout planning process. One of the doors is panelled, and on the real building it was on the right, the other door is a simple planked affair as per the prototype. Both were made from styrene sheet.

With the basic building all but complete it was given a coat of Precision Paints Weathered Wood enamel. Some subtle weathering will follow and then the doors, windows and poster boards along with a few other details will follow.

Finally a view looking in the other direction, to be continued…………….

Geoff

Slow But Sure Progress………

A couple of weeks ago I finally made up my mind as to how the old line to Llangunllo would disappear into the backscene. With the remainder of the branch on borrowed time, something cheap and simple would most likely have been used, so I thought a mound of spent ash ballast would fit the bill nicely. There would have been plenty lying around after the track beyond Bleddfa Road was lifted, so I constructed this……….

The base is DAS modelling clay which was pressed into the end of the track and gently moulded twixt fingers and thumb to blend into the surrounding scenery. Once happy with its shape the clay was removed and allowed to harden. The whole thing was then coated in PVA and covered in ash ballast, along with some clumps of grass, and odd bits of dressed seamoss, to represent weeds and other growth.

Here it is in situ, I still have some bushes to plant behind the water tower and buffer stop. The timber baulks have now been chained to the track, well glued to be honest. One advantage of this idea is that it takes up less space than a van, or buffer stop. So there is now enough room for a tender engine should one find its way down the branch. Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to offer ideas and suggestions as to how the line should end.

Wanting a break from modelling scenery I once again turned my attention to the goods shed. My aim was to create a building that had seen better days, one that had been roughly patched up over the years with whatever materials could be found lying around. I have come across several photographs of similar sheds which show the steps lying on the ground beside the shed, so those on the model are freestanding. Despite being constructed from lightweight materials, namely foamboard, styrene and basswood the model has a very satisfying, weighty feel to it. Having studied the finish of similar building, I discovered that the nuts, bolts and washers used to secure the sheet material in place were hardly noticeable under the thick coats of paint that had been applied over the years. So those on the model are nothing more than small cubes of styrene, which have been rounded off with a solvent laden brush.

At the moment the shed is still in the process of being weathered. The base coat is Precision Paints weathered wood enamel. Some panels have been painted with a mix of the same colour and Humbrol leather, or dirty black. The bottom edges of the sheets where rust normally begins to take hold have been dry brushed with my own mix of rust, namely light and dark earth Humbrol enamels and a touch of red. The doors were painted a light grey, then dry brushed with Humbrol natural wood, and the same weathered wood. I have been building the weathering up slowly, leaving things for a few days before adding more subtle tones.

Though there are several differences between this view, and the one of Llansilin Road in the top right of the photo below. I think it is plain to see where the basic inspiration for the layout came from.

My goods shed is loosely modelled on the one that once stood at Llanrhaiadr Mochnant, which is not only longer than the one in the photo but is also mounted on brick pillars. A feature that I prefer to the timber trestle style base.

Finally two weeks ago today 1455 was caught on camera whilst exchanging empty for full coal wagons. Next time I will be featuring the station building which is now well on the way to completion………..

Geoff

Viewing Photos……..

Just a quick reminder that you can view any photo here on the blog full size. Just scroll down to the end of the post you are reading, and you will see a gallery featuring every photo that appears in that particular post. Left click on any photo and it will first appear as part of a slideshow. Look at the bottom right of your screen and you will see a circle with an exclamation mark within it. Click on that and the number of the photo will appear in the bottom centre of your screen. You will then see a tab marked view full size, click on that and Bobs your uncle. If you want to see how rough my modelling is then click on the photo again and you can zoom in.

Try it on the photo below which is in the gallery section of the post…….

Geoff

Composition…………..

When I first started off on this 7mm scale modelling journey I was given a very sound piece of advice. “If you intend modelling a railway in the landscape you are going to need as much width as possible, if you are short of that then keep any buildings and especially trees on the small side”. Those wise words have stuck in my mind ever since I started to construct the layout. So an awful lot of time has been spent on studying the real world, searching out small buildings and other mundane things that are so often taken for granted.

Sometimes I curse the camera for picking out faults and blemishes that the naked eye tends to miss. At other times it is a godsend, especially when testing out new ideas and composing a scene. I usually have a good idea of how I want things to look, but before committing myself I have a dry run. I then take a photo or two from different angles and weigh everything up. More often than not I will tweak things and take photos of the same scene again. Rarely do I get the look that I am after at the first attempt, and at times a complete rethink is called for. Moving a tree or building a couple of inches can make a world of difference, colour and texture also need to be considered. That was the case in the above photo, the creation of a slightly larger gap between the trees on the right, and the hedgerow on the left, opened up a pleasant view of the rolling fields in the background. Whilst the painted hedgerow on the backscene helps create the illusion of depth, the layout being only 21 inches, slightly over 53 cm at this point. As for the colouring, well I am rather pleased with how the backscene blends into the modelled scene.

I think the scene also works when looking from a different angle, sometimes you just get lucky.

It is no secret that an old iron mink van will mask the truncated line as it disappears into the backscene. However I am beginning to wonder if that is necessary, perhaps an area of undergrowth will work better?

I see the unkempt hedgerow continuing to spread behind and to the left of the lamp hut, with brambles forcing their way through the fencing to spill onto the platform. I’m not sure how I will model that but am thinking along the lines of using strands of rubberized horsehair and odd bits of seamoss. Whatever material I use needs to be fairly open, to allow glimpses of the fields and hedgerows on the backscene

1455 has returned from the paint shop after being given an overall coat of grime, along with some soot and ash stains. I’ll be adding a few more subtle weathering touches myself in due course. Like 7416 she awaits the addition of some tools, shovels, a bucket and crew. I also need to weather the 16T mineral, but won’t be going overboard as such wagons were relatively new in the era that I am modelling.

Geoff

Grotty Tin & Wooden Huts…….

For the past few weeks I have been working on the goods yard huts, which like many similar prototype structures have been cobbled together from whatever materials were to hand. So my models are a mix of ‘Palight’ foamboard, Slater’s corrugated iron sheet and plain styrene.

The whole project has been somewhat delayed whilst I awaited the delivery of some moulded nuts, bolts and washers, to replicate those used for securing corrugated sheeting.

EDM Models supplied the nuts and bolts, they also stock some useful moulded rivets and other detailing parts.

https://ngtrains.com/shop/brand/titchy-trains-group/.

The small hut is just a simple styrene box, the planking having been scribed onto the styrene with an ‘Olfa Cutter’ prior to assembly

All the bolt holes were drilled out to 0.45 mm, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact I found it to be a rather relaxing exercise, but then again perhaps I need to get out more?

With the basic shell completed the wooden areas were masked off, and a coat of red acrylic primer from a rattle can was applied to the corrugated sheeting. Some areas of the roof were painted a rust colour, mixed up from leather, dark and light earth enamels, with a touch of red. Wet and dry papers of various grades were then used to cut the paint back in random areas to give the effect of corrosion. The same technique was used on the corrugated iron sides but with a little green dry brushed in random areas. Some of the nuts and bolts were given a dab of rust, which were then touched with a brush load of thinners causing streaks of rust to run naturally downwards.

All the wooden areas were painted in green enamel, followed by natural and weathered wood, both of which were dry brushed in random fashion. With the painting completed all the surfaces were dusted with talcum powder, which not only blended everything together but also gave a pleasing faded look.

Simple structures like this, that can be made from odds and ends are ideal as an introduction to scratch building.

A close up of the nuts bolts and washers, after studying the real things I found they were hardly noticeable from a distance, and think simple styrene cubes would have been just as effective. In fact I used some in various places to see if I would notice the difference.

One job I had been avoiding was the windows, in the end I decided to use clear PTEG sheet for the glazing and self adhesive labels for the frames. It is an old technique that can give good results. The frames are built up in layers, and are best painted in watercolours, which can easily be removed from the glazing with a wooden toothpick.

Once I was happy with the huts I bedded them into the ground, and I also worked up the yard surface a little more. The grass is a mix of Greenscene straw and summer static grasses. Some areas have been planted with individual grass tufts, very time consuming but well worth the effort in my opinion.

There is still plenty to keep me occupied in this area, coal scales and sacks, weeds and bushes, the list is endless.

The plan now is to complete the goods shed and more of the yard area, followed by the station building. That little lot should see me through to Christmas, though I’m certainly not working to a deadline!

Geoff

Another Small Step………….

Several weeks ago I made the decision to have 7416 professionally weathered. Though I had always been happy enough to weather my 4mm scale models myself, I drew the line when it came to weathering my 7mm locomotives and carriages. To begin with I don’t own an airbrush, or the skills to use one. Furthermore I didn’t feel that a light covering of soot and grime could be applied to my satisfaction by brush painting alone. I did consider using weathering washes but I am still feeling my way with them. So I had a word with Steve Johnson, the proprietor of http://grimytimes.co.uk who has been offering a weathering service for a good number of years. I sent Steve a few photos to work from, left 7416 with him and this is what he came up with………..

I requested an overall subtle dusting of soot and grime, including the cab windows. The buffer beams needed to be toned down and the bright polished safety valve cover of the factory finish just had to go. There are a few touches of light rust around the steps and brake gear, not that my photos pick much of it out. The cab controls have been dulled down, there are a couple of scuff marks below the bunker steps and evidence of water being spilled from one of the tank filler caps.

I am not really a fan of heavy weathering, preferring the look of a loco that is in regular service, but in need of a good clean, a case of each to his own……………………….

Yes I know that lovely clean Modelu lamp sticks out like a sore thumb, I have a batch of them to weather when I get around to it.

Two views of 7416 before and after weathering, and no I still haven’t completed the 7 plank open.

On a different note I have completed the water tower, well I think I have for now. I will probably take a look at it again once the area surrounding it has been worked up a little more. In case you are wondering the ladder is a Peco product, and like others in their 7mm range I find them to be rather good. The handrails were formed from soft 30 gauge wire, the same as used for making the armatures of the various saplings.

The same scene from a different angle but in monochrome, which to me captures the look of the era that I am modelling far better than colour.

Finally with water tanks topped up 7416 heads back down the branch for Presteign and Kington, where more wagons will be added to her train before she departs for Leominster.

Geoff