Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making Slates

I have used embossed styrene sheet tiles for all the roofs to date.

I have been very happy with the effect .... until now because  (a) all the roofs are beginning to look the same (b) the thickness of each tile looks overscale (which has never bothered me before but is starting to - a worrying sign - next I'll be worrying about loco running numbers and head codes) and (c) the pattern is repetitive (which is my fault because I should have built in the odd broken or dislodged slate).

However, on Lee's lnr model making blog he shows a very effective technique for home made tiles using slightly textured wallpaper.

Since my blog is in part to record the things I learn and in part to share with fellow new modellers those things (on the off chance any read this), I am unembarrassed to say that this is a revelation to me, although I am now reminded that I saw Geoff Taylor do something similar on his DVD.

Anyway, I think it's brilliant and I am going to try it for the chapel.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Chapel Part 6

The stone work on the porch is finished!  Here it is in a sorry state covered in Milliput and requiring sanding. The domes are plastic beads from Hobby Craft. Unfortunately they are sold in bulk so I have 97 going spare. I'm looking forward to moving on now to the cornice/pediment (are they the right terms?).  OK, the ornamental top bit.

Realistic Water

This might be useful to anyone who, like me, is a relative newcomer to railway modelling.

I started this layout 3 years ago and this photograph shows my first attempt at scenic modelling.  It's supposed to be an estuary but you can see that it is simply a baseboard painted grey.

The photograph isn't great (and neither is the modelling - I think I could do better now with a bit more experience under my belt) but it's to illustrate a point.  I never got round to finishing it off.  I do that often - get bored with one thing and move to another. But every time I look at this part of the layout I feel a pang of guilt.  I must get round to the water.  But how?  That has troubled me and one of the better reasons I never completed the scene.

Then I came across this post in Iain Robinson's blog.  It has a photograph of Iain's Tetford canal scene. It is breathtaking.  Wonderfully evocative. I've read articles on how to create realistic water effects but this is the best I've seen.  I asked Iain the secret and he pointed me in the direction of the Allan Downes method which I googled and found on Chris Nevard's blog.

So there we are, that's how it done.  I hope that helps someone.  The question is, can I do it? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Chapel Part 5

Making progress on the ornamental stonework around the porch again using plasticard and strip.  I am beginning to wonder in hindsight if I should have tried carving DAS but I don't feel particularly confident about that.  That's an experiment for another day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Chapel Part 4

I worry about the effect this modelling lark is having.  This morning I excitedly ripped open a parcel of plasticard and PETG glazing sheet.  Genuine excitement. I am 57 for goodness sake.

The parcel was from Station Road Baseboards. Impressive service - next day delivery.  I found them quite by accident Googling for clear plastic sheet to try out the new (to me anyhow) window frame technique I'd read about on Iain Robinnson's blog.

Anyhow, progress on the chapel.  Using plasticard sheet, fiddly bits of plastic strip and Milliput filler I have just about completed the window surrounds. A bit of filing and sanding down tomorrow once everything is properly dry. It's a reasonably pleasing overall effect but close inspection shows up unevenness of some of the surrounds.  I now have a neck and headache.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Layout Plan (?)

This is the plan of my layout.  It's around 11 x 8 (feet) and very simple - a double track high level mainline and a low level branchline with a sort of fiddle yard.  This picture reflects the extent of my drawing skills. The tracks are not quite as linear. The original layout drawing was not dissimilar which gives you some idea of the lack of planning which goes into anything I build.  I have a picture in my head of what I want the thing to look like but struggle to put it on paper or work out much of the detail in advance.  I haven't the patience. I just bodge it when I hit a problem.  The original drawing did not depict me sleeping.  I didn't know I'd be doing so much of it.  Lack of forethought again.

I had thought about a layout with lots of points and interesting operational possibilities, but came to realise I really didn't want that.  I wanted an excuse to try scratch modelling and watch trains go round and round and in and out of the landscape.  And I wanted to run any train from any era whilst pretending it was 1960 and I was eating a boiled egg with my dad and brother on the railway embankment at Weedon.

Real train enthusiasts will hate this layout.

I read lots of books and articles about how the railway should fit the landscape and not vice versa.  I started out with good intentions but then got bored.  It was too restrictive - the idea of having everything pre-planned.  I wanted a town, a village, a bridge across an estuary, a viaduct and a canal and I was going to have them come what may.  And if it looked awful, I would rip it up and start again.  The result is beginning to look a bit patchwork. If and when I start another layout I will try to have a more unifying theme but for the time being, I don't really care.  I'm just enjoying the learning experience.

I may attempt a better drawing at some point. It's a chance to aimlessly while away time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A brief intermission

I've not been able to get on with the chapel. Work keeps getting in the way, but I passed a pleasant couple of hours on the Virgin Voyager from London today reading the Iain Robinson and lnrmodels blogs. Not that VV's are at all pleasant - the seats are uncomfortable and the toilets smell - but the blogs were a satisfying distraction. The things you learn - techniques and materials that would never have occurred to me - scribed foamex for stonework or window frames from clear styrene and brasso for example.  I'm going to have hours of fun and frustration experimenting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Station Building

I don't like this and I don't really know why. I based it on photographs of Oakworth where " The Railway Children" was filmed. I need to do a bit more research to find another station - one I can visit and see in real life. I like the idea of a canopy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Chapel Part 3

Further progress today on the chapel.  The carcass has been glued together (using Slater's Mek-Pak),

the windows painted (using white primer and Ford Red Burgundy, both from Halfords)


and the quoins added (or at least some of them).

The quoins are a little tedious to make.  After drawing out onto Plastikard, each quoin is scribed and then cut out in a strip. A "V" is scribed along the length of the reverse side to allow the plastic to be folded 90 degrees.

Video 2

A downloaded app for the iPhone has solved the variable frames per second problem!  This video is smoother but the focus isn't as good and I haven't synced the sound well.  I shall have another go using a gorillapod to hold the iPhone steady. (Again, thanks to for the sound effects).

 Making videos is a great excuse for putting off cutting out the quoins for the chapel (which I have learned is the architectural name for the stone blocks on the outside corner wall of a building).

Video 1

Been filming with an iPhone 4.  The first video below stutters. I finally worked out it's because the iPhone films at variable frames per second - anything from 23 to 30 - which makes it impossible to link the clips together without the picture appearing jerky.  The soundtrack is from

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Chapel Part 2

The framework of the porch is done. Next job is to glue the walls together then start on the ornamental stonework. I've very little idea how to do that yet - plastikard strip, DAS and milliputty I expect. I'm looking forward to it!

I've allowed 10mm at the bottom so as to set the completed building into the landscape.

Starting on the chapel

I made a start on the chapel yesterday.  It took a while to work out the measurements from half a dozen photographs by counting bricks. The side views are very restricted so I will have to imagine them.  The front is of red brick and very ornamental.  The side appears to be made of a much cheaper material.  It looks almost like rubble.

The frontage is mutli layered but I have neither the skills nor the patience to prepare a detailed set of technical drawings.  I just did an outline on paper and laid out the windows to make sure the front looked about right in plan view.  I'll make the rest up as I go along. 
The cheap drawing board was a good buy - it saves so much time marking out.  I marked out a piece of 30 thou plastikard on it. York Modelmaking supplied a set of templates for their windows which makes marking them out very easy. And then the cutting out, and building up the layers of the front. Cutting out the window arches was hard.  I must have got through four scalpel blades. Once the white card was cut out I glued on Slaters embossed plastikard and cut out the windows again from the rear.
The rear wall I'll cut out later when I work out how the roof fits - I have no idea at the moment since I can't see past the huge facade.  It might be Georgian style with a shallow pitch and flat on top.  Or there might be nothing at all behind the top 3 windows! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


A friend has sent me this photo of a layout he is building of Chester Station and approaches. It looks wonderful. Very atmospheric.

The workshop

I couldn't have a blog without a few photos of the "workshop" which is a very grand title for something so pokey.  It's actually a tiny space over the garage and very untidy. 

Heater on, watch the trains, a bit of modelling and BBC Radio 4.  Bliss. Best of all is when one of the grandkids comes up to have a look and a play.  I hope this blog will remind them of happy times.

The fiddle yard. 

And the layout

Oh, and my wife has just reminded me that it's nearly 3 years since I started this.  When it's all finished in 3 or 4 years time, what next? I fancy modelling something industrial.  I need a huge shed in the garden.

The Bridge

The bridge over the estuary

I just couldn't find a suitable back scene so ended up painting one.  It's fine if you don't look to closely (which is a bit hard because the layout is in a small space).

Actually, there are two bridges over the estuary. A steel structure for the mainline and wood for the branchline.  Both are loosely based on the bridge at Barmouth, North Wales which is an incredible feat of engineering.

I saw the bridge for real again recently.  I haven't got the colour of the wood right.  It needs to bemore silvery grey where it's been bleached by the weather and salt.

The Chapel

Next project......this........

.... using these stock laser cut windows from York Modelmaking which are are perfect.  Plenty of quality materials for scratch building.  I made a station a few months ago but I don't really like it.  The York Modelling station canopy supports have given me an idea though.

Road Bridge

A little bridge on a country lane over the branchline.  All a bit idyllic really but the whole layout is about memories of trainspotting with my Dad and brother on the embankment at Weedon and of holidays by steam train.  Ah those were the days.  (They weren't really but it's nice to pretend.)

The Old Farmhouse

The ruined farm house is made out of Plastikard (what else?) with DAS glued on and the stones separately scribed afterwards.

I saw an article last week (in BRM) where the modeller had built an entire stone warehouse using DAS and had scribed and painted each stone individually.  It looked incredible. I don't think I would have the patience but will maybe give it a go.

Another Ruthin Building

I needed a building for the opposite side of the street to ye olde shoppes and came across the rear of this building in Ruthin which fitted the bill. Not an exact replica but modified to fit the space.


Look! A train! Don't see many of those on this layout.

More about the church

This is Llanrhos Church on which the model was based.  I had to simplify it - my skills are just not up to exact replicas, particularly the windows.

The Garage

These are a couple of works in progess.  The Old Foundry Garage is a lovely building in Denbigh, North Wales probably built c. 1900.  The one below that is the stone cottage attached to the garage.

I couldn't find suitable stock windows for either model so I used clear Plastikard behind the window openings and glued on plastic strip.

Ye Olde Street - again

This is a slightly better view of the street with the old shops leading up to the castle.  It's unoriginal I'm afraid.  I had the idea from Iain Robinson's model making blog.  The models pictured there are absolutely brilliant.  I would love to be able to model to that standard. 

Dove Cottage

I've just come across this photo of the thatched cottage.  I think it was called Dove Cottage in the British Railway Modelling magazine article.


The inspiration for some of the buildings comes from Ruthin, an attractive town in North Wales with many handsome buildings.  This is the Old Court House although I had to re-size it to fit it into the layout.

Behind the Court House is the Red Lion, based on this restaurant;

Again, both are made out of Slaters Plastikard and using the dry brush techniques Geoff Taylor teaches so well in his DVD.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jayman Hotel

I started building a Georgian house based on Sir John Betjaman's The Old Rectory. My 4 year old grandson called it a hotel, so that's what it is.

 The low backdrop is starting to get on my nerves!  Look at the top right hand corner.

Anyway, here is the back of the hotel.  The fountain is made of DAS. The main structure is of 30 thou white Plastikard and embossed Plastikard.  The wrought iron gates and railings are etchings from Geoff Taylor. 
The wrought iron on top of the sign is made from small cross sections of plastic tube.  It is overscale but looks OK from a distance.  

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