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

Hedgerows, Saplings & A Surprise…

For the past few weeks I have been working on an unkempt hedgerow that will run along the goods yard boundary. Rather than take the easy option and use clumps of horsehair covered in foliage, I decided to try Gordon Gravett’s methods as explained in his books and articles. Why do things the hard way, well I wanted the hedgerows to have an airy, open look. I also enjoy modelling scenery, and pushing myself to create something a little better.

I started off by making some basic armatures from strands of 30 gauge paper coated florists wire. The paper coating enables the strands of wire to be bonded together with a coat of PVA.

Once painted with a dark grey, almost black coat of artists acrylics, Woodland Scenic’s medium green foliage was teased out and applied over the branches. There are cheaper foliage mats out there, but they don’t seem to be colourfast, I learned that the hard way! Some long straw coloured grasses, with perhaps a few wildflowers will be added later as I continue to work up the scene.

The hedgerow from a different angle showing its open nature and how it becomes more dense towards the backscene. The idea being to create a shadowed area as the yard approach lane reaches the backscene, see the photo below.

An area of rough grass has now taken root around the rusted yard gate, which hasn’t been swung closed for years. A gatepost on the opposite side of the lane has yet to be added, along with some rusted railings behind the yard office, the buffer stop and water tower.

Whilst working in and around the goods yard, I was thinking about the proposed trees at the other side of the layout, and came to the conclusion that perhaps some young saplings would work better? My thinking being that the scene would look more open.

Early days yet, but I think the saplings work rather well, blending nicely into the trees painted on the backscene. The armatures were constructed in the same way as those for the hedgerow, and were covered with a mix of dark and mid green foliage mat. The undergrowth along the cutting has been worked up with coarse turf, which again is from the Woodland range.

The goods yard is now coming together much as planned, but there is still plenty of work to do. Such as adding a ladder, handrails and access hatch to the water tower, which also need weathering. Then the yard offices need finishing off, and the yard surface itself needs to be more overgrown.

On a different note AEC Railcar W26W paid a surprise visit to Bleddfa Rd. last week. Here she is waiting to depart with the late afternoon service to Presteign, Kington and Leominster. This is the new Heljan model, which looks rather at home in her surroundings.

Geoff

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.

Geoff

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.

Whatever Next?……

For the past few weeks my thoughts and modelling have been mainly focused on the goods yard, and the disused track bed beside, and beyond the water tower. The heading photo, and the one below illustrate how I imagine the area might have looked once nature had started to claim what was once hers, and cast her magic spell.

So I set out to record the basic shapes of the young trees and saplings before all was hidden from view by foliage. I’ll be back over the coming months to capture what changes nature has made to the scene, a case of modelling what I see. In the meantime I have enough information to make a start on some wire armatures for the tree trunks. I did consider using Seamoss for the smaller saplings, but early experiments were disappointing.

The actual trees that I have in mind will be more open and airy than those in this photo, probably young ash or silver birch, they will also be modelled in half relief. Those that you see here were salvaged from Llangunllo and saved for planning exercises such as this.

In my minds eye I see the Iron Mink being surrounded and covered in overgrowth. Not that I will be using the model seen here, it is far too nice for that. Instead I have the idea of building a grounded styrene replacement body, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

Meanwhile after much trial and error I have finally made a decision as to how the huts will fit into the yard area. The larger of the two is the old signal cabin which has now gained a corrugated iron roof and cladding, with a little timber framing thrown into the mix. Whilst the other has vertical wooden planking and a corrugated iron roof. I hope to capture the appearance of them being roughly cobbled together, and repaired from whatever materials were to hand. But the biggest problem here was how to disguise the merging of the goods yard entrance lane into the backscene. I did consider modelling a curved stonewall, but it didn’t look right within its surroundings. So an unkempt hedgerow was mocked up, and then more by accident than design, I discovered that a few well placed trees, would created the illusion of the lane dropping down through them as it left the yard.

At the moment, this is another scene that has been cobbled together from odds and ends found in my scenic scrap box. Even though I say so myself, I think it works a treat and can imagine wild garlic growing amongst some damp ferns down in the hollows. Sorry if my imagination is running wild but it is all a part of the planning process for me.

Of course these changes won’t happen overnight, its just that I like to plan well ahead in the knowledge that my ideas will actually work. Far better to do that in my opinion than to wander blindly, and have a nasty surprise further down the road. It will also give me time to purchase the scenic materials that I am going to need to model everything in a convincing manner.

Geoff

Quietly Plodding Along………..

I have at long last completed the station platform fencing, which like the prototype is built up panel by panel. Some platform lamps have also been added along with a solitary seat, all the components being manufactured by ‘Peco’ to a very high standard. The spear fencing is of the GWR pattern as is the seat, the lamps however have a Midland Railway look about them, so I carried out a slight modification to the posts. Being of hollow construction they are designed to enable small LED’s to be fitted, but those who know me well, will tell you that I have no time for such gimmicks.

Starting with the fencing, there are two packs, one contains plain fencing panels and posts, and the other contains fencing for platform ramps, gates and posts. The parts are very crisply moulded and clip neatly together, a drop of solvent making for a strong joint. I found the painting to be more of a chore than the actual assembly, but then I always do.

An example of the real fencing at Llangollen, the date is the 21st July 2016 and 7822 ‘Foxcote Manor’ is arriving with a train from Corwen.

I modified the lamp post by removing the upper moulded rings from the posts with a new curved scalpel blade. My wife asking why I couldn’t just build the things as intended rather than chop and change them.

Llangollen again, this lamp features a round post and plain lantern top, those on the ‘Peco’ version are more ornate. I didn’t modify the lanterns as I feel they are stronger as they are.

I was lucky that the platform ramps matched the angle of the fencing, which is something I should have checked at an early stage. Fortunately luck was on my side for once, and the fencing fitted snugly. Looking through my stock of paints I came across an old tin of Humbrol 237 Desert Tan matt enamel, which is sadly no longer listed on the latest colour chart. However I am reliably told that Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow acrylic is a close match. Anyway a panel of fencing was test painted, happy with the result I painted the remainder, then stippled a few rust patches and stains in random areas. The completed fencing was then glued in place with neat PVA. The lamps had yet to be weathered when this photo was taken.

The combined gents and lamp hut was painted with Humbrol gunmetal metacote, Precision Paints weathered wood and rust enamels. The mix being varied as I went along, don’t ask me in what proportions far better to experiment yourself under your own lighting conditions. The finish isn’t quite there yet but some dry brushing of the same colours, together with a little green to represent water and moss stains should do the trick. The figure is by Modelu and has come in very useful when checking the height of doors and the size of various fittings. He is a goods guard, and has pulled his coat collar up in hope of keeping out the biting wind that sweeps across the exposed countryside in these parts.

I mentioned earlier how I looked for prototypical inspiration and this scene is very similar to a photo that I have in my collection. Unfortunately copyright prevents me from sharing it with you here. I like to think that the scene catches the atmosphere of a rundown branch line in the middle of nowhere.

A little more work has been carried out on the water tower, which now has a door and a fully glazed window frame. Weathering of the structure will soon take place, and perhaps some ivy will start to creep up the walls. The water crane has been painted at last and is now firmly bedded into the ground. No water bag is supplied with this lovely ‘Ragstone Models’ kit, instead the instructions suggest using a drinking straw, which surprised me for I was expecting something better. However once I had cut, shaped and painted a suitable straw with a mix of Precision Paint weathered wood and Humbrol leather I was rather pleased with the resulting bag. A pair of sleepers that will eventually be chained to the rails, protect the old truncated line to Llangunllo and Llanbister Road. Rumour has it that there are several condemned wagons stabled behind the Iron Mink.

Geoff

Lost In Transit……..

A friend and follower of the website recently asked why I hadn’t mentioned Bleddfa Roads appearance in the latest issue of the ‘Model Railway Journal’ No. 281. Well I did when editing and proof reading my last post, but for some reason the draft copy, rather than the completed one was published by mistake. Why that happened I couldn’t say, most likely an oversight on my part, but then again several things on the website haven’t been working normally. Such as the site taking ages to load, readers being unable to comment, the list goes on. When checking for solutions to the problems I’m told that I should consider paying to upgrade the website, and purchase a domain. Cheap enough to do for the first year and then the price shoots up, as they say ‘you don’t get owt for nowt’. To be honest I would rather spend my pension on something else, so I’m a checking other web hosts. Anyway having made my excuses this is the missing text from “Landscaping with Static Grass”……….

Before I sign off, I was recently asked if I might be interested in writing a two part article about Bleddfa Road for the ‘Model Railway Journal’. The first instalment explains the thinking and planning behind the project, and the second will feature the completed layout”.

Geoff

Landscaping With Static Grass……..

I haven’t done much modelling of late, I never do come this time of year due to a lack of natural light. So I try and make the most of any early morning sunshine whenever it appears and floods into my modelling room. It was on one such morning that I cast a critical eye over the backscene and decided to make a couple of simple changes.

I wasn’t happy with the appearance of one of the fields on the backscene when viewed from certain angles, so out came the paints and brushes. The above photos show the scene before and after a little rework, just click on the arrows and scroll from side to side. I think the curved backscene distorted the appearance of the field as it looked fine when viewed head on, mind you the camera could have been guilty as well. One of the advantages of painting a backscene is that you can make simple changes if things don’t look right, so I also toned the colours down at the same time, so that they blended in with the static grasses that I had selected.

With the changes to the backscene completed I slowly began to built up the grass with static fibres from the ‘Greenscene’ range. I used a combination of spring and summer green, the darker colours being laid first followed by lighter ones. When modelling long grass I find it best to apply short and medium length fibres first, as they provide a firm anchorage for the longer (6mm) fibres that follow. Finally some straw fibres were added to create blades of grass with sun bleached tips. The first layers of grass were laid into a bed of ‘Greenscene’ flock cement using my ‘Fusion Flockbox’, and Noch puffer bottle. Certain areas were then sprayed with ‘Testors Dullcote’, and the next layer of grasses were applied and so forth. The dullcote not only acts as a permanent adhesive but also as a matting agent.

Patches of ‘Woodland Scenic’s’ medium green, and burnt coarse turf have been added in some places, and will eventually have tufts of static grasses embedded into them.

Grass has also taken root on the embankment along the edge of the goods yard. ‘Silflor Winter Pasture’ grass mat was used in this area, as it can be difficult to apply static grasses directly onto steep slopes. So the mat was teased out, laid in place and various static grasses were added afterwards. Changes have also been made to the stonework on the platform face, a job that I had been holding back until the landscape began to take shape, and I was able to judge its colouring.

Geoff

The Post Before Christmas………..

My workbench is somewhat cluttered at the moment due to numerous projects being held up as I await various bits and pieces to arrive in the post. So I am taking each project as far as I can to keep my modelling momentum going. I first turned my attention to the water tower which had been waiting for its stonework to be carved for almost twelve months.

The building had previously been covered in DAS modelling clay, and sprayed in acrylic primer. So I started off by pencilling some horizontal and vertical guidelines as it is very easy to wander of course when carving stones. The stonework was carved with an old gramophone needle held in a pin vice, the resulting DAS powder being brushed off the surface every few stones so I could see what I was doing. I find that the pin vice and needle gives me better control, as well as being more comfortable to hold than a scriber. But frequent breaks were still needed to prevent my fingers and thumb from seizing up!

The water tower in situ on the layout, the window frame is a laser cut component from the ‘LCUTS’ range, once the stonework has been painted it will be fitted in place along with a scratch built door. An etched ladder giving access to the tank, and some pipework will complete the model. This area of the layout is currently being developed scenically, then the water column will be painted and fitted in place. The yard hut nearest the camera will be of wooden construction, the other will be clad in corrugated iron sheets.

I have removed the buffer stop at the end of the engine release and intend stabling a condemned goods van there. A couple of old sleepers laid across, and chained to the track will also be added. The GWR filled some old iron mink bodies with concrete, added a buffer beam across one end and anchored them directly to the rails, so that is another option. If I went down that route then I would scratch build an iron mink body out of styrene sheet.

Clumps of Silflor / MiniNatur late autumn grass are now taking root around the platform. Other scenic materials such as Woodland Scenics burnt grass coarse turf, and various Greenscene static grasses are also being added as I go along. Some ‘bosky’ trees will be planted to the left of the goods van to blend in with the trees on the backscene. The GWR spear fencing is a Peco product and just being tried in place for the moment.

At the other end of the layout I have come up with the final design for the lime kilns, and have started to detail the bridge. The bridge abutments and kiln have been constructed from 3mm ‘Palight’ foamboard, and will be covered in DAS modelling clay once I can get my hands on fresh supplies.

The siding is now being reclaimed by nature, or in this case homemade grass tufts. They were planted as ballasting was taking place rather than being plonked on top of it. There is still plenty of work to be done on the track work in this area, such as painting the rails and chairs, not to mention weathering the ballast. The buffer stop originally protected the end of the engine release and is a modified Peco kit. I thought it would be easier to detail if the parts were reassembled on a separate subbase. The wooden buffer beam is simply two ply sleepers glued together, and drilled to fit the same locating pegs as the kit components. The modifications to the kit can be seen below………………..

I have also returned to the Slater’s RCH 7 plank wagon which had been patiently waiting to be painted and weathered for what seems an age. To recap I fitted interior detailing etches from the D.J Parkins range to this model, along the body top strapping and securing brackets. Then I sprayed the whole model in grey acrylic primer and set it aside to dry whilst I continued with more urgent projects. Six months later I started to weather the wagon using some techniques by Martyn Welch that can be found in his book on the subject, and in his article on painting unpainted wagons that appeared in MRJ No.262.

Lettering is from the superb Railtec range, an end door version of this wagon is currently under construction, but when it will be completed is anyone’s guess.

The same wagon under different lighting conditions, I started off by painting the chassis in chocolate and then dry brushed light earth around the springs, ‘W’ irons and brake gear. Gunmetal metacote was dry brushed down the axle boxes to represent oil and grease streaks, the brake lever being treated in the same manner. Moving onto the body, natural wood was dry brushed along the planks, and the strapping was picked out in a mix of dark earth and gunmetal metacote. The interior was painted in Precision paints weathered wood and dry brushed with natural wood, all paints are Humbrol matt enamels unless otherwise stated. At the moment the wagon is waiting for a wash of Precision paints dirty black, but until I can get my hands on some thinners that job will have to wait.

So to keep things moving I picked up the goods shed and made a start on adding some Slater’s corrugated iron sheeting. But even this job is being held up due to the current unavailability of moulded nuts, bolts and washers, which should be arriving from the USA early in the New Year. The remaining section of roof will be added once the doors have been fitted. Fortunately there is a enough work on this model to keep me busy until Christmas. The canopy supports have been made from some Basswood strip that I had left over from one of my aero modelling projects. It is a lovely material to work, cutting cleanly and is easy to carve should the need arise.

In case you are wondering there is plenty of clearance between the canopy support and the roof of the van. It looks rather tight because I have not put the goods shed in its correct position. So there we are, I doubt there will be another update this year, but you never know. Thank you for following my modelling exploits, and for your comments over the last twelve months.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Geoff

Bleddfa In Black & White………

Progress came to a shuddering halt at Bleddfa Road last week, due to my wife being hospitalized with Covid-19. Thanks to some excellent care and treatment she is now back at home, and on the long road to recovery. I too have tested positive for the virus but only have the symptoms of a mild cold along with a loss of taste and smell, so we have been very lucky indeed. We stuck rigidly to the rules, had our shopping delivered from day one, and on the rare occasions when we ventured out we wore masks. So please do be careful out there, I would hate anyone to go through the same experience as we have. I think it will be a while before my modelling gets back on track, so I will leave you with a selection of monochrome images that were taken a few weeks ago.

Sometimes I think monochrome is better suited to layout photography, especially when trying to capture the atmosphere of the 1950’s to mid 1960’s.

One of the biggest challenges that I faced, was in trying to capture the feeling of open countryside, on what is a relatively narrow baseboard for a 7mm scale layout.

Once I feel up to doing some modelling I intend finishing the lime kiln siding, the kiln itself and the road bridge.

Geoff

The Backscene, Journeys End……….

After almost fourteen hours of painting, spread over two weeks, I have finally completed the backscene. I have learned a lot in the process and have started to develop an interest in painting, which is rather worrying as I have always said that if I could paint, then I wouldn’t bother modelling. One thing is for sure, and that is I certainly made the right decision to paint my own scene, for I now have a unique backdrop, that can be easily modified should I make any changes to the layout in the future.

Anyway I will let the photos do the talking as they take you on a journey down the line, and through its surrounding countryside.

Geoff