Saturday, March 30, 2013

The retaining wall

After much stretching across the baseboard and backache to scribe the pillars and paint the retaining wall, it's as finished as it's going to be.  From a distance, it's fine.  I just won't take any close ups.

Following a very helpful post on Iain Robinson's blog about painting stonework I thought I would experiment with shades of grey only.  I think I've been far too tied to brown hues. I am pleased with both the result and that I have learned something new.  Thank you Iain.

A bit more "infrastructure" work followed - levelling a corner of the layout to the left of the castle for a park and bandstand, cutting chapel and garage shaped holes in 4mm ply for them to sit in and laying the foundation of a road running behind the station.  (Despite the station having been lifted on and off the baseboard a number of times today, the drunken woman on the platform clings on limpet-like.  I am starting to respect her.  She may be a drunkard but her tenacity is admirable.)

I have decided that the weather will become threatening on this side of the layout. The backscene will show an approaching thunderstorm.  It's actually because I had lots of grey left over from the retaining wall.  I had nowhere else to put it so it's now the base coat for the storm.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Chapel - almost finished but not quite

Hooray. The postman finally made it through the snow with the York ModelMaking slates.  The slates were very easy to apply coming as they do with a self adhesive back. I like them - they're ideal for someone like me who is too impatient to cut my own.  I wondered how secure they would be knowing I'd faff around painting and repainting trying to get the colour right.  I needn't have worried - after several tries, the slates held firm.

After a bit of weathering, adding gutters, outside lights and slate signs I've gone about as far as I can until I know where to place it on the layout.  I'll then need to add a wrought iron fence and gates and some fancy gate posts.  I can see that being a job that'll get neglected.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

More things to do on a Snowy Day

Where will it all end?  More snow, but an opportunity to carry on with the improbable retaining wall.  I have had fun scribing the stonework.  Because the wall is so positioned that it cannot be scrutinised closely and will be fortuitously hidden from view by buildings, it is the ideal project on which to practice before tackling something more visible.  A few strategically placed plants will also help. The buttresses need to be scribed - a task for which I anticipate back ache since it means a stretch across the baseboard.  Capstones for the buttresses should be fairly straightforward but I am not so sure about those for the top of the wall.  More DAS seems the obvious choice.

(Who is that drunken woman on the station platform?)  Now, where did I park the car....?

Friday, March 22, 2013

A snowy day

I can't say I was disappointed to wake this morning to a thick carpet of snow prohibiting yet another trip to London. A day spent pottering about the railway layout instead and finishing off a couple of things.

Progress on the chapel has stalled.  The roof structure is done but the postie just can't get through with the slates ordered from York Modelmaking.  You'd think Royal Mail would make more effort.  Don't they know how important this is?

However, I have been promising to finish off the garage building for some time.  It only needed "Foundry Garage" and "Flare Petrol" signs and here they are.

I've been thinking about where to place the chapel and garage on the layout (how's that for planning?) and I think I've settled on ....... here;

The problem is of course that I see something I'd love to have a go at modelling and it has to go somewhere, no matter how improbable.  

And talking of improbable, I need to build an improbable retaining wall.  Having seen the magnificent scribed stone effects achieved by Iain Robinson and lnr models it's an excuse to have a go.  The formers for the wall are made from 3mm ply covered with air dry clay.  Slow drying air dry clay! Impatient to get started.  Looking again at the area to be scribed, it's a bit daunting but I'm interested to see how it'll work out.  If there is no follow up post, it's all gone in the bin.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Adventure of the Overscale Window

My last post ended with me worrying about the overscale window of the chapel porch. It didn't look right at all and despite (or because of) my cack handed efforts, it refused to yield.  The only thing for it was to make one from scratch, trying to reflect the pattern in the arches of the three small top windows, by sticking bits of styrene strip on to tracing paper.

It looks better and more in keeping with the larger window panes of the porch in the original photographs of the chapel. Not perfect but better and good enough.

Thank you to Iain Robinson and Mikkel for their observations and advice.  Now, if you want to see how it's really done, hurry over to their blogs.

The Chapel Part 9

What a relief to get back from a week working in London to get on with the chapel.  I wish I'd taken the chapel with me.  I could've stayed in it and still had space left over compared with the typical central London hotel room.

Anyway, I have made progress on the windows.  Some good, some not so good.  I wanted a muted stained glass effect so scanned the York Modelmaking window frames, coloured the panes on an old image composer programme and printed the result on tracing paper.  I thought that clear styrene or acetate would be a bit too shiny (and in any case I can't print on it) and tracing paper produced a decent enough effect on the church I built earlier.

However, once the windows were fitted, the effect was more like a fun fair.  Listen, the Carousel Waltz.

After applying a little Modelmates Mud dye (left over from track weathering) to the frames and panes, the colours are better - more muted. However, the half round window over the door looks wrong.  It's O scale because there wasn't an OO scale window big enough. I was hoping it wouldn't matter but unfortunately it looks overscale.  So, I may try to make something more suitable ..... or I might just leave it.  Who cares?  Only me.  But it will annoy me to my grave.

Oh, and the roof is started.  I still haven't decided how to slate it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Realistic Water

Well, the Alan Downes realistic water technique works an absolute treat.  And very easy too.  One coat of PVA followed by a coat of clear gloss varnish over muddy brown paint and the effect is very pleasing.

There are a few air bubbles but I put those down to the fish (the water quality being very good in this area).  I plan to have more water on the other side of the layout where I shall endeavour to take more care in applying the PVA.  Or reduce the fish stock.

I can recommend going to see this technique applied to perfection on Iain Robinson's blog.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Chapel Part 8

I have made a start on the bricks and stronework.  After reading an article in one of the railway modelling magazines on painting - dry brushing - bricks, I bought two Lifecolour Diorama paint sets, "Dust and Rust" and " Rail Weathering" containing some decent looking colours for brickwork, applied over a coat of desert sand (or something like that) for the mortar.  Where my cack handed  dry brushing was not dry enough I have had to go over the mortar with a very fine brush.  I also now realise I was too liberal with the solvent during assembly which has eroded some of the embossing.  Still, you live and learn.

The ornamental stonework is an undercoat of Vallejo Ivory, which was far too bright, followed by a light brushing of Sky Grey.  I am stuck though on the colour for the porch roof.  I don't know what it is made from. I'm guessing lead but please post if you have any suggestions.

I am going to leave any more weathering until the rest of the model is finished.  Once the side walls are painted, I can fit the windows.  Very exciting.

Monday, March 4, 2013


This might be helpful to other new-to-the-hobby modellers.

Before starting this layout I read a lot about backscenes.  There are some superb off the shelf as well as bespoke photographic products available.  I was sorely tempted but then went back to the only rule I had set for the layout in the first place - to try and make as much as possible from scratch.  It wasn't about what the final result looked like, but the satisfaction of trying something new and learning from it. So that had to include the backscenes.

Here are a few snaps - close up and from a distance.  I found that mixing a few different shades of greens, browns and greys and suggesting shapes of trees, buildings, fences and so on rather than trying to paint anything too technically accurate (which would be way beyond me) produced a satisfactory enough result, provided you didn't look too closely.  For the landscapes, the paint is just splodged on using different size brushes and sponges.  If I tried to be too careful, it didn't work.  Making the colours paler towards the horizon seemed to be the right thing to do.  As to the street scenes, I copied outlines of buildings from photographs and then added a few random strokes to suggest rooftops.

Close up, the backscenes look pretty unconvincing - from a distance, they're OK. At least I am not displeased with the effect.  If I started from scratch, I think I could do a better.  But I can't be bothered.  I'll just try and do a better job on the remaining backscenes on the layout.

Close up ........


 .... far away (sounds like Father Ted explaining perspective to Father Dougal).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Chapel Part 7

Feeling a bit aimless now that the ornamental stonework is finished (apart from sanding)!  It's been an such an absorbing activity that I will have to find the motivation to crack on and finish the model.  It's at this point of a project that I often go off and do something else and then feel guilty for neglecting it.  I WILL finish it.

And after a bit of sanding and a coat of Halford's primer, it begins to look more respectable.

I have to confess to being diverted a little just recently.  I have installed DCC. Hardly necessary on such a small and simple layout but huge fun. And look, all controlled by Hornby's Railmaster.  Brilliant. Who needs to model?

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