Bleddfa Road and Llangunllo

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

The Hills Are Alive…………….

So far so good, everything is coming together nicely now, though I have had a few happy accidents as Bob Ross would say. But thanks to the forgiving nature of acrylic paints my confidence is slowly growing. I was a little concerned about the sky, but as more hills were added it began to look better. Mixing the colours that I want is still proving difficult at times, but as my experience grows I am beginning to get the hang of it.

The hills now stretch along the entire length of the layout, but I was not happy with them. I felt they were a tad too blue, and lacking the hazy look in some areas. So I applied a smoke grey wash in hope of toning them down.

Before and after, the top photo shows the hills before applying the wash, which was made up from a little black and plenty of titanium white. The lower photo shows the hills after the wash was applied, to my eye they now look further away, happier with the new look I started to add some rolling countryside.

I set out to mix a shade of green that would be slightly lighter than the static grasses that I will be using. A mix of cerulean blue, cadmium yellow and titanium white produced the base coat. Once dry I added a few highlights by applying lighter, gentle washes of the same colour, followed by a little dry brushing. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but rather than rush in and make a mess of things I am taking my time, and stepping back every so often to take in the scene.

I was going to paint any distant trees, bushes and hedges in a blue grey colour as is often recommended. The idea behind that is to help create the illusion of distance, alas after trying the idea for myself I wasn’t convinced that it was the way to go. So referring back to some of my photos , and the real countryside around our home, I came to the conclusion that greens were still very much in evidence from some considerable distance. So abandoning the idea of blue trees, bushes and hedges I mixed up various shades of green, then plucked up the courage to paint some distant greenery.

I am particularly pleased with the next two views, the hedgerow on the right is horsehair dressed with various scenic materials. Woodland burnt turf and a mixture of Carr’s leaves if I remember correctly, well I did make them years ago for Llangunllo Mk1. The grass in the centre foreground is one of my homemade grass mats, which I think blends in well with the painted scene.

A helicopter view of the same area, the land has been modelled to drop downwards to meet the backscene. Grass tufts are in the process of being planted against the base of the painted hedgerow to give a seamless joint. The area of bare land is waiting for some more grass matting and extra static grasses to be applied.

One thing I am happy with is the manner in which the lane disappears off scene. As previously mentioned the hedging alongside, and opposite the gate is recycled scenic material from Llangunllo. It is only being used for planning purposes, and will eventually be replaced with something far better.

The same scene from a slightly different angle after the addition of some distant trees and hedgerows. It will look much better once the static grass mats and proper hedges are added, well I hope it will!

The trees behind the road bridge were easier to paint than I expected, their outlines were gently stippled in place, the same technique being use to build up the foliage. There will be a rough stone wall carved from DAS modelling clay, running between the right hand bridge abutment and the kiln. The actual kiln won’t be as tall as the mock up, and will have the same DAS stonework, as will both bridge abutments, the one on the left being partly obscured by a tree. But before I can think of getting down to some modelling I still have plenty of painting to do.

Geoff.

Leaving The Comfort Zone

I finally left my comfort zone earlier this week and started to paint my first backscene, but not before carrying out plenty of research on the subject, and making a small change to the layout. I decided to use good old fashioned hardboard for the backscene support, which is perfectly adequate for a permanent layout that will never leave home. I also made the decision to paint the scene in acrylic paints, all I needed was a book on the subject.

Though there are plenty of books, and articles in the model press on painting backscenes, I wanted to learn more about painting in general. Fortunately I came across the excellent book you see here, which covers the basics such as how to use the paints, mediums and even brushes. There are also some interesting ‘shows you how’ photos, and the author shares plenty of hints, tips and trade secrets to help you on your way.

I started off by securing the hardboard backscene supports to some ‘L’ shaped wooden brackets, which were screwed into the underside of the baseboard frame crossmembers.

I like to curve the ends of my backscenes and usually soak the hardboard panels in water to shape them. Unfortunately due to the tight curves required that was out of the question on this occasion, so I formed the corners with some 3mm thick ‘Palight’ foamboard. This material is almost as strong as hardboard, and can easily be curved without the need for any treatment whatsoever. The material is more flexible in one direction than the other, but will not hold curves on its own,

I admit to being rather naughty, for I have secured both hardboard, and ‘Palight’ directly to the walls in each corner, such are the joys of ‘No More Nails’ and permanent layouts. When used sparingly, past experience has shown that the joints can be easily broken without damage to the walls at a later date.

After three coats of brilliant white matt emulsion the backscene was ready for the horizon and the actual scene to be pencilled in, but before doing that I needed to realign the lane at the far end of the level crossing. When I designed the layout I had the idea of modelling a suggestion of Bleddfa village as in the photo below.

Had I gone down that route then the lane would have dropped down towards the village, and the backscene would have been spaced further away from the baseboard edge. The buildings would have been half relief, or less, and a little forced perspective would have come into play. But despite much trial and error with card mock ups, I just couldn’t get the viewing angles to work in a convincing manner, so the idea was quietly dropped.

So the manner in which the lane disappears into the backscene had to be redesigned, and this is what I came up with. The hedgerows and verges were added using my photo editor, and helped me plan the angles for merging the lane into the backscene.

I imagine the crossing scene will look something like this, but the road will be on the level. This was the third ‘test panel‘ to be painted as I tried new ideas, techniques and experimented with colours. The hedgerows were blocked in with sap green and then highlighted with a lighter shade of green, which is how Martin Goodall paints his foliage. I haven’t mastered the art of colour mixing yet but I am slowly getting there. There is a distant range of hills beyond that rolling countryside, but they are too faint for the camera to pick out.

I first tried a mix of cerulean blue and brilliant white emulsion for the sky, but it was a touch too bright under my layouts lighting. Cobalt blue when mixed with the same emulsion looked far better, so starting at the top of the scene a strip of the mix was run along along its entire length using a sponge roller. More white was then added to the mix and a further strip was painted below the first one, the two strips being blended together with the aid of a damp sponge. Yet more white was added and another strip was painted in, so by the time the horizon had been reached the sky was almost pure white. The sponge being used once again to blend all three strips of paint together. Thanks to using a roller and sponge the sky is free from unsightly brush marks.

Happy with the sky, I copied the outline of some distant hills from one of my photos onto some thin card. The card was then cut and used as a template for marking the hills out on the backscene. Whilst waiting for paint to dry I did a little more ballasting, and started to bury the siding in DAS modelling clay. I didn’t see the point of purchasing an expensive buffer stop kit only to cover it with weeds and other debris, so I’ll be modifying the old Peco offering. Those unsightly locating lugs will be removed, as will the lamp on the top of the beam itself and the rails will be extended.

The same scene with the distant hills painted, I used a mix of cobalt blue, titanium white and a touch of black to catch the appearance of ‘those blue remembered hills. I have yet to decided whether to model a rough stone retaining wall or a rock face between the bridge and lime kiln, at the moment I’m leaning toward the former. There will be some trees either side of the bridge pilasters, not detailed ones but simple blocked in, highlighted outlines. Well there will be once I have mastered the knack of creating them, but until I do I will slowly be working my way along the layout as I paint the rest of those distant hills.

Work in progress, since this photo was taken I have reached the halfway stage. I’m getting a feel for mixing and blending the colours now which should speed things up, not that I’m in any rush.

This is the effect that I have been trying to create, there isn’t much blue in the sky but plenty of low cloud. To my eye it looks like rain is falling over the distant hills, and the scene feels cold and damp. Before I go, and before anyone asks here are the paints that I am using, sap green and black have since been added to the list.

So there we are, by the time of my next update I hope to have the backscene completed. I’m in no rush and have plenty more experiments to carry out with colour matching and brushwork.

Geoff

Further Developments & Experiments…………………….

Since my last update Bleddfa Road has gained a scenic fiddle yard. I have also been dabbling with acrylics as I prepare to paint my own backscene

Starting with the scenic fiddleyard I used the bases of the old cassettes for the new track bed. The track being built in situ on Templot templates, with 1.5mm ply sleepers and Slater’s bullhead rail held in C&L two bolt plastic chairs. Waterproof PVA was used to to secure the templates and sleepers to the track bed, as things can get a little damp when ballasting. I had a good supply of rail and chairs in stock, so the job flowed nicely and soon the new track was ready to be wired and tested. I get a lot of satisfaction from track building, and even more so in 7mm scale. This is lost on one of my friends who cannot understand why I don’t use a well known ready to lay track system. Sadly he thinks I’m just trying to be clever, whereas I simply want something a little better and more realistic.

Once the track had been thoroughly tested I turned my attention to the scenic foundations and loading bank. Kingspan insulation was used for the former, and 3mm ‘Palight’ for the latter, with the rock cutting being carved from DAS modelling clay.

Thanks to this new viewing angle the crossing keepers cottage now needs a back door and some extra windows. Modifications that I can easily carry out seeing as I resisted the urge to develop the cottage earlier. This is why the other buildings on the layout are still just basic shells, and will remain that way until I am absolutely sure that everything will sit together. After creating the basic scenic foundation the Kingspan was covered in plaster bandage to seal, and protect it from any stray solvents.

A little work has also been carried out on the road bridge, I think the mix of building materials drew me to this particular structure. It is also different which is another big plus point as far as I am concerned. Like the prototype, the model is also being constructed from a mix of materials, all being overlaid onto a shell of 3mm ‘Palight’ foamboard.

This is how the fiddleyard looked before further experimentation, there is a very gentle reverse curve on the main line. Unfortunately the camera makes it appear kinked, which it certainly isn’t. The reason for laying the track in that manner was to create a little extra clearance between it and the siding. It also helps as regards the alignment of the road bridge, as well as increasing the length of the track by an extra inch. Now that might not sound much but it means that an extra wagon can now fit into the fiddleyard. Looking at the loading dock I know it is early days, but I am not sure that it is working for me, so I’m experimenting with the idea of a lime kiln again. The sketch below, which is based on a plan that can be found in Gordon Gravetts second book on modelling in 7mm scale really appeals to me.

I really like the look of this scene so I made a rough card mock up to see if the idea of a kiln would work. Scaling up a building from a sketch isn’t exactly easy, and several adjustments will need to be made until I get the proportions of my mock up right. In the meantime a little research won’t go amiss, as I have several questions about the whole process of manufacturing quick lime.

Anyway and moving on, I have also been experimenting with some backscene painting techniques. I started off by following Martin Goodall’s advice and took a few more photos of the scenes that appeal to me.

Both of the above images have been given a dreamy muted look in hope of creating the illusion of distance. I don’t want the backscene to have too much detail, or the eye will be drawn to it, rather than the layout itself. Though my experimental pieces bear no resemblance to these scenes, I am hoping to produce something similar once I have mastered a few techniques. To help me in my quest I have been watching repeats of ‘The Joy Of Painting’ on BBC 4, and have picked up some very useful tips from its presenter, the late Bob Ross. After watching a certain episode I found myself reaching for paint and brushes. Unfortunately I didn’t have the colours recommended by Bob or Martin. I didn’t have a piece of hardboard or canvass to paint on either. Nevertheless I made do with a piece of card and what paints I could muster and came up with these small scenes.

If you refer back to the earlier photos you will notice that they feature trees and hedges. The question was could I paint them, or would it be better to model them in 2D? You might ask why not leave them out and make things easier for myself, well the simple answer is that they will help to avoid any shadows cast by the lamp hut, and the tree featured in the above photo does just that despite its shortcomings. Obviously I need to improve my tree painting, but I am very happy with the hedge on the left. Its basic shape being blocked out first and then highlighted. I was also keen to see how my homemade grass matting would blend into a painted background, which wasn’t easy given the colours available to me. The colour of the sky and horizon will also improve now that I have the correct acrylic paints to hand.

This is my second attempt, trees once again capture the shadows cast by the station building. Highlighting the tree trunk Bob Ross style improved things no end, but the foliage still needs work. Another thing that I needed to consider was the position of the horizon. Referring to Martin’s articles he reckons that it should be two to three inches (approx 5-8 cm) higher than any buildings. But of course the height of the backscene has to be taken into consideration as well. Well I think that little lot brings everything up to date for now, thanks for reading. Geoff

Exit Stage Left……..

      Over the years I have got into the habit of taking work in progress photos of the layout, and my other projects as I go along. It is an approach that helps me decide if my ideas are working as planned, if not then I can nip things in the bud before wasting too much time and materials. The camera lens also has a habit of finding blemishes that the naked eye somehow manages to miss, and every so often a photo comes along that starts me thinking, this is the latest one to do just that………

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I had been working up the scenery around the crossings, when I took this low angle shot, and  am now asking myself if I should persevere with cassettes, or develop the cassette deck scenically, shades of Llangunllo?

 

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When this photo of Llangunllo’s fiddleyard first saw light of day my sanity was questioned in some quarters. Others bought into the idea and understood what it was all about, and how it suited my style of layout operation, there being only a handful of services each day, and long spells of inactivity between them. Assembling trains on a scenic section of track didn’t bother me, as I just considered it to be a cassette of sorts, albeit one that could not be swapped for another. Of course the idea wouldn’t have worked had I favoured a more intense way of operating the layout. The handling of stock wasn’t a problem given the short length of the trains that I favoured, and the infrequent service that I ran. I would still have had to handle my stock using cassettes, unless I was happy just to send the same trains back down the line again.  So for me a scenic fiddleyard worked fine, and as far as I can see using one on Bleddfa Road would as well. The advantages are many, for I could make use of the dead space currently taken up by the cassette deck. There would be no unsightly joints between the modelled section of the layout and cassettes to worry about, but best of all I would be able to model a stretch of plain track passing through the countryside. Thus opening up more photo opportunists, whilst the use of a mirror beyond the bridge could give the impression of the line carrying on into the distance.

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Though the cottage acts as an effective view blocker from certain angles once any trains have passed through the scene, the cassette sticks out like a sore thumb.

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Despite the fencing and crossing gate you can just see the inner edge of the cassette from this angle. Attempts to fool the eye by covering the cassette sides with embossed stonework failed miserably.

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Things look a little better from a lower viewing angle as the gate and fencing tend to draw the eye away from the cassette. But I really needed to find a better solution for the problem, so I decided to experiment with a scenic fiddleyard and came up with this….

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Blodwell Junction bridge is an interesting structure what with its stone abutments, brick pilasters and vertically planked main spans.  The scenery on the left has of course been mocked up using my photo editing software. The 5-plank wagon is stabled roughly where the loading dock would be, there being plenty of space between it and the wall to construct the dock.

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A house stood in front of the left hand abutment at the real location, but I would have to make do with a tree, as another building so close to the cottage would overpower the scene. The idea of a small disused lime kiln might be too much even in half relief, but no harm will come from trying a mock up, or in trying a mirror under the bridge to give the illusion of distance Llangunllo fashion. I like the idea of modelling the cottage garden and extending the fencing along the line, but I’m wary of over doing things. However there is another option, and that  would be to forget about the bridge, loading dock and lime kilns. and just develop a short section of the line a little way beyond the cottage. I have enough track components in stock for whatever option I choose,  it is just a case of  deciding whether to make the changes or not. A slight realignment of the so called quarry siding would be required, but that would be easy enough. So in the meantime I’m carefully thinking things through, bearing in mind that less can sometimes mean more.

Geoff.

A Lamp Hut & Other Odds and Ends…..

      My latest modelling project has seen me returning once again to Llanrhaiadr Mochnant for inspiration. Not content with modelling the station building and goods shed I found myself being drawn to the lamp hut, which is unusual for it has a gents urinal attached to it.

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Whilst the ladies WC is part of the station building, and has the luxury of a roof, the poor chaps facilities are extremely basic and open to the elements. Plans for the structure can be found in Mike Lloyd’s book on the Tanat Valley Railway.

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I was thinking of building the model from corrugated copper sheet, but found that it distorted when cut across the corrugations. So I decided to try some Slater’s corrugated styrene sheet instead, which has been used to good effect by Gordon Gravett and Martin Welch. Moulded securing nuts, bolts and washers are available from EDM Models, but it can be difficult  getting hold of modelling materials at the moment, so I used cubes of styrene instead. Come to think of it, perhaps that is a better idea for what is a background model? Anyway before taking the build any further, I wanted to see if it would work when sited towards the platform end…………

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I have also started to plan and develop the scenery beyond, and around the back of the the platform. The basic ground cover is ready to be secured in place, but the trees salvaged from Llangunllo are just for planning purposes, whilst I design the backscene and work out how the modelled scenery will merge into it. I have also been checking where shadows will be cast so that I can plan well ahead to disguise, or avoid them. In a previous post I mentioned how I had been impressed with Paul Marshall-Potters ‘rattle can’ approach to creating a backscene. I have also been rereading Martin Goodall’s articles on creating, and painting backscenes with artist acrylics that appeared in MRJ No.220 and 221. Martin makes it all seem very simple, so I am to going try and paint my own using his ideas and techniques. If you don’t have those magazines you can find some snippets and photos from the articles here on the Scalefour Society forum. A field trip to Mid Wales for a photo shoot is on the agenda once the weather improves, far better to seek inspiration from the real thing, than to try and make things up. Whether I can capture what I have in my minds eye with paint and brush remains to be seen. I’m thinking of distant blue tinted hills, with an overcast sky, rather than the usual blue with white fluffy clouds.

Backscene left

Something like this with little detail, and muted colours so that the scene doesn’t overpower the layout.

Goods Shed Foundations

I’ve also been working on the brick supports for the goods shed, the last of the tedious jobs I hope. In all I needed to make twelve, and at long last they are complete save for a little more weathering. I made a card template to position each support on a false floor. The bricks were painted with the same matt enamel colours as used on the ground frame base. Namely pale stone for the mortar, and mixes of  light earth, flesh, gunmetal and coach crimson for the bricks themselves. All being painted before the complete assembly was glued in place on the layout.

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The shed itself is a separate structure, and its corrugated sheet cladding will extend downwards to cover the joint between it and its base. The lip of the cladding will also locate the shed firmly on its base, well at least that is the idea.

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Further progress has also been made on the ground cover between the platelayers hut and the goods shed. As usual it is a mix of Silflor and Noch grass matting, all blended together with various MiniNatur static grasses. The height of the grass will gradually be increased in some areas, weeds and wildflowers will also be planted. But for now I am just laying in the basic covering, all the extra detail will follow once the layout is in a more advanced state.


Plates and detail for 7719

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The etched number and shed code plates for 7719 arrived from ‘Narrow Planet’ a couple of weeks ago. I have also added the separate detail that is supplied with these ‘Minerva’ locomotives, such as all the pipework, toolboxes, steps and lamp irons.

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She just needs coaling up now and a spare shovel, fire iron and bucket attached to hooks on the rear of the bunker. A crew, lamps and weathering will follow at a latter date.


Other odds and ends

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Once painted those ‘Peco’ sleepers in the foreground will be partially covered with long grass and weeds. I can see plenty of waste being dumped in this area, think empty oil drums, a spoil heap and scrap materials of all descriptions strewn about the place.

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The view looking down towards the lamp hut, which stands in in splendid isolation at the far end of the platform. Finally another view of the goods shed, and the rough unkempt ground around it.

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Geoff.