Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Beck Bridge - Under Blue Skies

I couldn't resist having a little tinker with the photo of 'Pandora' on the 'Beck Bridge' diorama...

This shot of 'Jay' got similar treatment.

Both skies are genuine Lincolnshire coastal views, taken at Humberston on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway back in February last year. I may create a sky board of some sort to shoot against in due course but thought a bit of trickery was in order as an experiment.


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The Beck Bridge - A New Horizon

Whilst going through various options to develop the 'Beck Bridge' recently I realised that for photography purposes it was bothering me that there was a whacking great gap in the backgound of pictures. From some angles the black edging along the back was showing through, as demonstrated in this natural light shot of 'Flower of the Forest'. This was difficult for me to disguise in editing.

I pondered over this and realised that I could add in a scenic piece to represent the beck flowing away from the scene. After some trials an image that I had downloaded in my research phase was flipped horizontally and given a painted effect. It worked from normal viewing angles but when I muttered something about making the trees on the print out look right, a friend suggested to me that I might try to use the 'Decoupage' technique used by card makers to get a 3D effect. I liked this idea as it could fill the "black edge" at the back of the board effectively without too much bodgery required. As a trial I printed my intended backscene out three times on thin card and carefully layered them using mounting board between the layers.

Satisfied with this I created a two-layer decoupage, in theory a back layer could be added if a fixed backscene was added (or as an extra stand-alone layer). Rather than print onto card I printed onto matt photo paper and then glued this to the card, the result is a slightly more intense colour compared with the mock-up.

The line of cut varies from the mock-up as I took the bottom piece across the pipe, which does give a nice effect. The edges of the trees and bushes were cut as carefully and randomly as I could without driving myself crazy. Once cut the cut edges and the back of each piece was treated with Button Polish (shellac) for strength and durability. Between the layers is a piece of mounting board also treated with Button Polish, the top of which and the upper edges of each piece being painted with a green-grey acrylic to help hem blend in to the printed images. In front of the image new growth in the form of Sea Foam bushes and some Peco long grass hide the joins effectively.

From the back it looks like this, the back piece is some 1/32nd ply cut to shape, Button Polished and then painted with matt black as per the rest of the surround. I've tried to be as neat as possible but it won;t usually be seen!

Under the bridge now looks like this, extra Peco long grasses were added towards the back of the water to hide the join and disguise a bit of the black surround taht insisted on showing through.

A slightly different angle from the first picture but this does illustrate that the new backscene piece and greenery are doing their job. The greenery alone could have helped but the backscene really helps to add depth.

I'm really happy with how these changes have turned out, certainly some of my more negative thoughts about the diorama have now gone, it will have to be stored out of sight rather than on display but for photography purposes I am certainly a lot happier to use it. I may still opt to add a couple of items at the right hand end to better fill the end in but that can wait for another day!


Monday, 6 January 2020

What in the name of Bassett-Lowke?!

This isn't the blog post I was going to write today, that can wait.

I just wanted to point out that real Bassett-Lowke locos look like this...

Or this...

'nuff said.


Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Now look what you've started!

... which is exactly what I said when the 'Beck Bridge' met the baseboard for the project that it's now abandoned extension plan kick-started...

I've filled in the joins in the corner of the backscene to allow a smooth transition between side and end boards. You might also notice a touch of Morecambe and Wise along the front edge where you now "can't see the join" after application of Milliput and some smoothing...

On that seasonal favourite I'll wish all readers of O9 Modeller a Happy New Year.


Saturday, 21 December 2019

Plan B - for bodgery!

 (or how not to build a baseboard...)

With plans to expand 'Beck Bridge' from diorama to micro layout now abandoned, work on progressing "Plan B" has started, despite my intention to leave it until the new year. The 23 1/2" x 7 1/2" board first envisaged as a test track has been expanded into a board that is 30" in total length with provision for a water feature in the front left hand corner.

On the front edge I cut the pine strip back at an angle over the end of one of the battens underneath in order to get the most support for the join. The new backscene is 3mm ply on the back and 5.6mm at the end, both from the extravagance of new sheets of material! A piece of recycled ply forms the base layer of the trackbed extension at the left hand end. This piece was in undercoat already and conveniently the required depth. It has since been topped with a piece of foamcore board that was also spookily correct in one dimension...

The less said about what goes on underneath the better, but it's pretty solid. Just visible on the right hand side are the trim pieces added around the top and sides of the main backscene board. All new exposed timber has now had a coat of gloss oil-based varnish as the first stage in protecting it from the thrills and spills ahead.

There will be a fiddle yard run off added after Christmas, using the ply that was cut for the extension of 'Beck Bridge'. Very little goes to waste!


Saturday, 7 December 2019

There's always Plan B...

There is a piece of training we deliver at work where at one point we explain how the system warns you if you are about to take a "destructive action". Layout planning doesn't always do this for you but having spent a good few days doodling, brooding and examining, it became clear that extending 'Beck Bridge' might be a destructive action too far and that I would have to up the game for plan B. Whatever that was...

Plan B is envisaged to be based on the corkboard-esque board that was in service as the "new" test track, albeit then on the mk2 version. Whilst this worked satisfactorily, I was torn between leaving it in bare boards form, some low-level scenic work or something more layout-like with backscene boards etc added. 

It also became apparent during my recent coupler clinic that as a test track it took up too much desk space to be able to work on the item being tested. So I have replaced it with a smaller version, constructed from oddments during my initial workshop investigations into the 'Beck Bridge' rebuild.

An off-cut of ply 18.75" x 4.25" forms the top surface with framing from window beading strip that once graced a real 15" gauge carriage. A coat of varnish makes it all look a lot better than it really is and Peco track and MicroTrains uncouplers were recovered from the bigger version to create a two short sidings holding two wagons each, which is enough for testing purposes.

Which of course frees up the original board to potentially rebuild as plan B! There is an option to break out of the desk-sitter mould and extend the board by another 8" to the left if required and a potential extension could include a dropped area for a water feature, but probably not another bridge!* Track layout possibilities include recreating the mk1 version of the test track;

or adopting the basic idea from the 'Beck Bridge' extension; or even a new take on this plan that I drew up 15 years ago before going down the 'Shifting Sands' path....


*and yes, I have thought of recycling the bridge off the diorama...

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Hidden in Plain Sight

In my last posting about a potential plan to extend 'Beck Bridge' into a thin micro layout, I was torn between hiding a sector plate off-scene to close off the loop or making it a scenic feature. In the recesses of my mind another idea from Neil Rushby came back to me, from an article in the August 2008 Railway Modeller called 'A Scenic Sector Plate', about trying to hide a sector plate in plain sight.

The Ministry of Daft Ideas now seems to have developed a 3D visualisation department complete with a suite of items for planning purposes to see if this could be applied to the Beck Bridge rebuild.

This looks quite effectively hidden but not as cramped as when I mocked-up a hole-in-the-sky hidden version. Whilst the sector plate is aligned to the back road (which would be the "normal" position) the water tower hides the fact that the front line is disconnected. The structure alongside this is nominally styled after a phone box but could equally be a portaloo or even the TARDIS...

From the wider angle the result is also reasonable.

This is all working towards the formulation of my plans, there may be a totally separate 'Plan B' to also consider but that is currently an un-developed theory!