Groundwork and yet more pondering….

     After weeks of inactivity I have at last managed to make a little progress with my Llanbister Rd. diorama. Early last week I laid the rest of the plaster bandage and left it to dry out. It has since been skimmed with a light covering of plaster and PVA to seal the surface, and now awaits painting. The track bed, sleepers and rail also need painting and prepared for ballasting.  Despite the plaster, the diorama is still extremely light, and its frame has remained stable, which is a huge relief.

                                                 Click on any image to start a slideshow

This is how the scene looks today, a small coal stage is taking shape but a question mark still hangs over the water tower. I have  dropped plans for a grounded coach body in favour of a couple of rustic huts, but don’t read too much into the one you see here. The GWR buffer stop is an old Mainly Trains (Riceworks) kit that I had in stock, and will end up being buried in long grass, weeds or whatever nature throws at it.

I might yet abandon the idea of a through shed, if I do then the shed will be moved closer to the end of the siding, which might be more sensible as it would mask the end of the diorama nicely. But then again the original plan called for some trees to do that particular job.


The coal stage isn’t based on any particular prototype, instead I have taken various features of the stages that appeal to me, and combined them into one. It is far from complete at the moment, the walls are ‘palight’ foamboard  with Wills half round ridge tiles on top.  The stonework was scribed into the foamboard surface with an empty ballpoint pen, and the corner joints filled with Squadron Green putty. In theory the putty being solvent based should have attacked the exposed foam core of the board, but it hasn’t. So as an experiment the Wills ridge tiles were cemented in place, again on exposed edges with Revell liquid poly, and also Butanone without any problems. Despite the success of these experiments I am still wary, so be warned if you decide to do the same.


This is Silhouette / Mininatur meadow grass (late fall}, which I have been using for several years. First on Penhydd and then on both versions of Llangunllo, yes it is expensive but it is a quality product. Some of the material was actually salvaged from Penhydd and used on Llangunllo, something that is almost impossible to do with other ground coverings.

On a different note I recently placed an order for some scenic materials with Mininatur . It is possible to buy some of their materials here in the UK, but since the demise of ‘International Models’ I have been unable to find a stockist of their late fall meadow grass. So for the past few years I have ordered it directly from the manufacturer in Germany, who provide an excellent mail order service. The postal charges (DHL) might seem a bit steep but when you consider that it is a one stop shopping experience, it is no more expensive than having to make several separate purchases from different sources over here.


This is the same grass mat teased out into small clumps and mixed with a little hanging basket liner, the different materials being blended together with Mininatur static grasses. The beauty of these products is in their colouring, which to my eye is far more natural looking than cheaper alternatives.

Well that brings this update to a close, what I do next and in what order remains to be seen.





“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men”.

     The plan was simple, cover the card scenic foundation with plaster bandage, and allow it to dry out over Christmas. However I hadn’t factored in a viral infection, which not only put paid to any modelling, but Christmas and the New Year as well.

p1160418At the moment the track work is currently protected under some polythene, and will remain so until the last of the plaster bandage has been applied over the card supports  in the photo. I can’t see myself doing any modelling for a few weeks yet as our recovery is turning out to be a rather slow process.

p1160422Meanwhile one of my modelling friends gave me something to ponder by saying how he could now picture the scene with its coaling stage and water tower? Well I have no plans for any watering facilities, which I suppose might seem strange. But like Kington engine shed the one at Llanbister Road will just have a pit and coaling stage, water being provided at the station, or within its goods yard. Nevertheless I am always open to ideas so started to build a small version of the Ratio water tower. No decision will be made until the plastering has been completed, and then I will juggle things around to see if the idea works without crowding the scene.

One other project that I had hoped to finish by Christmas was my Class 122 ‘Bubblecar’, which I started life as a Hornby Class 121. Shortly after starting the conversion Dapol produced their model, I actually bought one  but wasn’t impressed with it. So I sold it on and returned to my conversion project which has given me far more pleasure than opening a box.



                                                     Click on any image to enlarge

I still have plenty of work to do on the Class 122 yet, and no doubt a full description will appear once the unit is complete. Well that brings everything up to date, it might be a week or two before I have anything new to share, it all depends on how soon I return to modelling.


In Search of Atmosphere

    Perhaps it is just me, but I find plain old monochrome captures the atmosphere of the steam age railway far better than colour. If you have seen the wonderful, inspirational photography of Ben Ashworth, the late G. F. Bannister and Jim Clemens, then you will probably agree. All three gents shared a common interest in the country railway,  especially those well ‘Off the Beaten Track’. I just wish I could feature their work here, but issues regarding copyright prevent that. So I will leave you with these photos, many of which were submitted for publication in the model press, but never saw light of day.




Back on track.

    My modelling room is fast resembling Santa’s Grotto as the grandchildren’s, and other presents take up more and more space. Meaning that work on the diorama is slowly grinding to a halt. Anyway thanks to a generous donation of rail, and sleepers from one of my friends, and the express delivery of a pack of Exactoscale GWR two bolt rail chairs from the Scalefour stores the track has now been laid. I was planning on going to the Manchester show over the weekend, but decided that I would rather stay at home and do some modelling. The point was constructed on Sunday morning, followed by half of the shed road and the trap point in the afternoon.

Had all gone as planned I would have used a point that I had leftover from Llangunllo, but its geometry wasn’t quite right for the shed entry. So I stripped it down, reused the crossing and built this replacement. Both stock rails extend back towards the end of the layout, and have yet to have their slide chairs fitted. They will go in place once the stock and closure rails have been soldered to the  copper electrical bonding pads, that can be seen approx halfway down the point. They were glued to the sleepers with Loctite cyano, and as long as the soldering iron is in and out quickly, they will stay put. Sleepers beyond the heel of the point are coppeclad, as they will be covered by the level crossing, which will also hide the electrical connections.  

The big advantage of building your own points, turnouts or whatever you prefer to call them, is that it frees you from being stuck with a rigid geometry. Making it easier  to lay flowing trackwork, I find the whole process of track building using individual sleepers and chairs to be very therapeutic. If you don’t know where to start, then there are plenty of articles, and at least two books on the subject. Not to mention demonstrations at shows up and down the country.

Being able to work on the track unhindered from both sides of the diorama is a huge boost, soldering electrical droppers to the rail has certainly been easier, and no doubt fitting fishplates, and painting the rail sides will be as well.

Looking towards Llanbister Rd. station

Time for a little photo trickery, I haven’t used any underlay, the track being laid directly onto paper templates that had been glued to the ‘foamboard’ with waterproof PVA. A lot of minor branch lines didn’t have a ballast shoulder, as they were ballasted with fine ash, I will be doing exactly the same, just as I did on Llangunllo

Finally a photo sequence showing 1455 on the Kington – Llanbister Rd. goods, which I hope will go some way to explaining how the diorama will work. I’ll leave it to you to decide if I’m mad or not, but before you pass judgement consider this. Llangunllo, including both storage areas is just over 3.5 metres long, or 11 ft 6″ in old money. Add the shed, and the proposed Whitton-on Lugg scenes to the layout and I would need a space measuring 5.5 metres, or just over 18 ft long! But by using two stand alone dioramas I can model two more interesting scenes on the Lugg Valley Railway, enabling me to take more snap shots of the line, and continue the story of a might have been railway.

One more thing before I go, this simple little scene is giving me an awful lot of modelling satisfaction. From researching the Lugg Valley, to the initial planning and construction I have really enjoyed myself, you can’t ask more than that can you?



Llanbister Road in plastic

    As a rule I don’t set myself targets, I had enough of those during my working life. However I did want to have the foundations for Llanbister Road shed laid before winter set in. A heavy cold following a flu jab set me back, but earlier this week I was feeling much better, and everything on the modelling front began to fall into place.

Diorama materials

Trent Plastics supplied me with a sheet of 5 mm thick ‘Foamex’, and cut it to size as part of their excellent service. If you are interested in the properties of this material, full details can be found on their website, they also have an ‘Ebay’ shop which lists other sizes of sheet.



Assembly was quick and straightforward, the only tools needed being a Stanley knife, a straight edge and square. All the corner, and cross member joints were reinforced with plastic angle from B & Q. I used Evo Stick ‘Pipeweld’ to glue the parts together, taking care to keep it away from the exposed edges of the ‘Foamex’. A few drops of ‘Loctite’ Gel superglue were used along those, both adhesives grab quickly but do give enough time to position each part.

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After checking the integrity of the frame, which proved to be remarkably strong, I added the top surface, the roads, areas of hard standing for the buildings, and some of the former’s for the scenery.  I had already prepared the track bed and templates, so it didn’t take long to lay the sleepers. I had hoped to use a B6 point that I had left over from Llangunllo but its geometry wasn’t suitable. Rather than faff about trying to get it to fit, I stripped it down and reused some of the sleepers, the crossing and switch blades. At the time of taking this photo I had relaid the crossing, and a few hours ago both stock rails were laid. Track now runs from the point back to the level crossing and beyond. Unfortunately I have run out of GWR two bolt chairs, so the job is now on hold whilst I await a delivery from the Scalefour stores.

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With the track laying held up I cut out the shed inspection pit, then tarted things up with a few scenic materials and a little cloning with my photo editor.

Llanbister Rd.

The level crossing gates were held in place with Blu Tack so I could work out the position of the wicket gates. Beyond the crossing is a mock up of a small ramshackle garage, which will have its single petrol pump mounted beside the road, a common enough sight in the early fifties to mid sixties, and even today in Montgomery. I rather like the phone box, but will use a Dart Castings etch seeing as it will be in the foreground. The building with its gable end facing the phone box is based on another drawing by G. lliffe Stokes, it might be a pub which will be handy for loco crews to slack their thirst. Especially the firemen, who would have been working hard due to the almost constant climb up the Lugg valley from Presteign.

Llanbister Rd..jpg 3

Finally the view from where the shed mess cabin will be located. The boring jobs are out of the way now, so I’m looking forward to completing the trackwork, and the job I like best of all creating a believable scene. It is possible that engines might be able to come off and return to the shed by Christmas, but I’m in no rush.