Sunday, 28 August 2016

Stuck in a Siding - an 'Abandoned Miniature'

The outstanding tasks on the scenic test piece seen in the last two posts has now been completed, including adding my usual light wood surround from bass wood and some final adjustments to the scenery in the form of some additional growth from dried grass moss and a discarded wheelset (modified Parkside Dundas) and some assorted junk.

As I commented in the first post on this series, there were a number of influences behind creating this scene. ones was the Abandoned Miniatures page on Facebook, a collection of photos of dioramas and models with a general theme of abandonment. The idea of an abandoned 15" gauge scene appealed and I realised that I was halfway there with my converted Avalon Line coach completed a few months ago. So this scene is actually designed to accommodate that coach...

The placing of the fence at the (nominal) rear is designed so that if viewed from that side, the open panel on that side is visible.

Inside the coach I have added all sorts of additional 'junk' from various sources. This includes bench ends from Port Wynnstay castings; a tool box from Black Dog Mining; a scratchbuilt carriage door balanced on the seats; a sign that reads 'Miniature Railway' (just to give a clue to the gauge!) and an oil lamp. All of these parts were individually painted and set in place using Tacky Wax.

I am really pleased with how this scene has come together and I've found myself contemplating another scene of similar size....


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Technique 2 - The Grass Grows Long

Progress on the test piece seen last week has come on at quite a rate. To say that this included a period where I wasn't too sure it would work out well...

I'm not going to go too far into what I have done - it's all based on rather basic work with paints, Woodlands Scenics 'turf' scatter, hanging basket liner grass and occasional Silfor tufts and Gaugemaster laser-cut flowers. Where I have differed from the last two scenes ('The Headshunt' and 'The Path to...') is that I have revisited some techniques that I had used several years ago to add to the textures and colours on offer. The blown leaves use a mixture of Green Scenes leaves (ground up a little to reduce their size) and dried tea leaves (PG Tips, probably), whilst I have added a few strands of dried lawn moss (home grown) to add to the textures in the grass.

I have also added a representation of small flowers in the grass. Having popped to the shops to get some cheap hairspray, I sprayed it on the grass and sprinkled in a combination of coloured scatters. I had forgotten how effective this simple step was. Following all this, the puddle had a couple of coats of 'Kleer' floor polish and looks suitably wet.

Having seen the effect these revisited techniques have had on this scene it is safe to say that both the other recent dioramas will be having a little enhancement, but first, I must complete a few outstanding tasks on this one!


Friday, 12 August 2016


With progress on a bigger diorama stalled, I have been creating a smaller test piece that will hopefully develop into something that will be easily displayed in my display cabinet alongside 'The Path to...' I have an eye on what the end result will be and what the inspirations are, but that can wait for another day...

The piece uses a couple of new (to me) techniques that I have been wishing to try for some time, but firstly Peco 009 track was modified with all sleeper webs removed in a similar manner to previous dioramas.

Rather than ballast this entirely I have used a technique described by Chris Nevard where modelling clay (in this case terracotta DAS) is used to embed the track between the sleepers (and in some cases over) and given a stippled texture using a stiff paintbrush. This technique has been used to gradually embed the track towards the end of the line to the right.

The other trial is the puddle in the foreground, this is based on techniques described by Gordon Gravett and uses clear plastic in place of the glass microscope slides he advocates. This has been bedded in with more DAS and will benefit from further treatment in due course.

The idea is to represent really sunken in yard track, similar to this seen at the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.

This is the first occasion I have really used DAS and I'm very impressed with it's scope for small projects such as this. Some of the land at the back was raised with a further layer of card and blended in with the modelling clay, and a mound in the front centre formed in a similar way. Typically I have covered these areas with a plaster/paint/PVA mix before taking a photograph!


Monday, 8 August 2016

Shunting with Steam - Heywood Style

A few days in Cleethorpes last week meant a little time was spent at the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway (and as we were staying opposite, we can recommend the breakfast!). One day, whilst the Severn Lamb 'Rio Grande' was in charge of passenger services, Heywood replica 'Effie' was steamed for some attention from the workshop team, leading to a test run to Kingsway, which is where I encountered her and driver Aaron.

The offer of a ride was quickly accepted (the service train was very full), which logistically is quite tricky, literally sat on the coals! On arrival at Lakeside loop Aaron advised that there were a few yard duties to complete, as he needed to retrieve the wagon used to transport bagged coal, take it to the station to pick up the delivery, release another wagon from the sidings as it would be useful later, and take some bags of rubbish down to the station. Real work!

The first job was to draw a rake of coaching stock out of the station in order to get the wagon in to load the coal, this job completed Aaron ran 'Effie' around the loop and back to the yard.

The CCLR yard has a three-road sector plate that accesses the carriage shed. The plan was to retrieve the wagons from the right-hand road; move the two open coaches in the left-hand road in their place; deposit the ballast wagon at the back of the right-hand road in front of them; retrieve the van at the back of the left-hand road (with the pallet showing) and take the wagons down to the station. Rubbish would be loaded into the small grey open wagon....

The chance to take some atmospheric shots was not to be missed...

Aaron was clearly enjoying this too much! I was getting involved throwing point levers and setting the road, and failing miserably at coupling up...

By now the ballast wagon had been deposited in the right-hand siding and the other wagons backed down onto the coal van (yes, that doesn't sound quite right!).

With the rubbish loaded onto the open wagon the train was drawn down to the station to deposit the rubbish and load up the coal, before pushing the ensemble back up to the shed.

My thanks to Aaron Ellis, Peter Bryant and the CCLR team for their hospitality during the week.


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Theakston - Rusty and Dusty

The last time we saw the Roger Chivers Theakston wagon it was still in bare plastic. I subsequently sprayed both the body and underframe in red oxide primer and put it to one side as other priorities took over.

At a local 009 Society (Gasp!) event I was able to pick up some 7mm diameter wheelsets of Bemo origin, which resulted in me altering the coupling mount height to suit and at the same time adding a coupler to the other end rather than use it as the end wagon of a rake. I then sprayed the body in grey primer over the red oxide, deliberately leaving a few rough spots and not really bothering too much in the interior at all (!). 

Once dry I washed over the grey with a dark grey wash, wiping this off the panels where necessary to allow colour to build in the strapping. The strapping and interior were then overcoated with a brown wash, and once dry some dry brushing added a rustier tone. Meanwhile, the underframe was painted in Humbrol red/brown, with the W-irons in grey/black. Again once dry the brown wash was used to tone the colours down. I then glued the underframe and body together, and once set added a coat of matt varnish. The final step has been dry-brushing to blend the two sections together and make it look suitably 'used'. 

Finishing-off jobs included MicroTrains couplers and adding about 63mm of lead window strip as weight underneath.

Certainly a recommended kit.


Friday, 22 July 2016

It just came to pieces in my hands...

A cautionary tale…

I spent a little time a month or two ago wondering “So what does come next?” I’d been tinkering with the first ‘Upcycle’ board, ostensibly widening it by 1 ½” along the front edge as an expanded diorama base. However continued thinking reached the conclusion that it would be a diorama that cannot be displayed as it has no cover, and would (perhaps) be a little oversize just for photography. The thought had then occurred that with a suitable ‘fiddle stick’ it could become a boxfile-esque  micro layout up to a maximum of 3 feet in length including the fiddle stick. This would be a return to the original concept but with the advantage of both a little more length and width. So I then went on to increase the scenic depth by another half inch at the rear and include a higher backscene, the result of which has been illustrated before.

Then of course came the question of scale and gauge. Having looked at the obvious alternatives (OO, O-9, O-16.5 and Gn15) and carried out some experimentation, I found that unless I acquired and used a small radius ‘Y’ point the 16.5mm gauge ideas could produce something quite cramped, surprisingly more so than a boxfile layout due to the lesser depth. O-9 actually offered the best prospects to use such a small space, either as an ‘inglenook’ configuration or the ‘Z’ plan of the original ‘Upcycle’, but with a slightly longer run off and more depth.

“But is it actually too small to make it work?” I asked myself. Eventually I concluded that it was, that whilst a micro layout was desirable, this was not a format that would work. So I hacked off all those extra parts (it certainly didn’t just come to pieces in my hands!), reduced the board to its minimum feasible dimensions, and plotted another diorama of ‘Headshunt’ dimensions. I’m still plotting and doodling, so who knows...?


Friday, 24 June 2016

Exmoor - Paintshop Progress (Part 2)

Having set the loco aside for a few days I re-started work by tidying up a few areas that the photographs had shown up. Over the following evenings I then fitted the whistle and safety valves into place on the dome, secured the crew in the cab and fitted the cab roof , added coal to the bunkers and fitted MicroTrains couplers.

As if it were on a test run at it's builders, these photos were captured in natural light on 'The Headshunt'.

The project has now reached it's natural break point as it is now complete with all parts added that can be at this stage... To complete the loco will need it's name and worksplates, presently on order from Narrow Planet, plus a little light, appropriate weathering and maybe one or two extra details. 

For now it is resident in my display cabinet.