Thursday, 20 October 2016

Rambling Thoughts of a Desk-Sitter

I've spent some time over the last week or so looking at some of the half completed odds and sods about the place and trying to create some sort of order from them. Having disposed of at least one offending item my thoughts drifted towards the possibility of a 'desk-sitter' shunting plank approx 25 x 6"...

Of course we have been here before, most recently with 'Upcycle', which was a little longer at 29" long, which was one of the issues that actually made it difficult to use as it was too tight a fit on the desk (i.e. too much needed clearing out of the way!)

If a new project does come into being, the lessons of Upcycle will be taken on board, notably having a decent height of backscene and not having a kick-back siding making life difficult. One option is to take the "less is more" single point approach that worked well on another desk-sitting project, my Gn15 'Ambassador Works', seen here in full form... on a desk...

Whilst delving through photos of past projects, it is worth pointing out that the balsa framed, foamcore topped baseboard being considered for this project is the much altered remains of the 'Misterton Fen Tramway' board from a few years ago. Subsequently used as a test track it was ironically replaced by 'Upcycle' and it's descendants. I have recently extended it at the right-hand end and for this project the left-hand end would also be extended.

We shall see...


Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Path To... (Reworked)

The last time we saw 'The Path To...' was back in January, when it went into the display case with an experimental backscene depicting beach huts in the distance, and a promise that the crossing would gain some warning signs.

The backscene never really found favour in the display case but I felt that the scene looked a little out of context without it, despite a little blown sand in the scenery it was not obvious it was a seaside scene! Having decided that it was due an upgrade of the grass textures following the success of the here was an opportunity to do something about it. I also decided to add a fence along the back edge, and to finally install the crossing warning signs. The result is shown below.

As well as the enhanced grass textures I have added a lot more blown sand into the scene, using the same fine sand that was used for the dunes on 'Shifting Sands' followed by Mig Beach Sand weathering powder.

The fence is a length of Parkside Dundas station fencing reduced in height and painted and weathered to look like a weather-beaten seaside fence.

The new sign posts are 1/16th" brass tube sprayed with grey primer, the signs are some I printed some time ago onto photo paper, which was sprayed grey on the reverse and with matt varnish on the fronts to kill the shine. The signs are superglued to the posts, with dummy strapping on the reverse from silver car trim line. The advertising sign is a left-over from 'Shifting Sands' given similar treatment, this is secured to the post using 5 amp fuse wire to give the impression it is an unofficial addition!

With these additions I feel that the seaside atmosphere is created and this micro-diorama is now truly complete.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Instant Diorama, just add MDF...

A month or so ago I made mention of creating further micro-dioramas of a similar size to the abandoned coach scene, i.e. 140 x 70mm. I felt this size worked well visually in my display case as some previous scenes had ended up looking too long. Having prepared a pair of new 6mm MDF bases I started to plan to build new scenes in both O9 and 1/24th, the latter to display my scratchbuilt Lister locomotive.

The Lister had previously sat on this base, which was one of the offenders on length and was taking up more space than strictly necessary:

This was a rebuild of an earlier diorama, which itself was reclaimed from an abandoned 2008 project that would have seen the Lister shuttling back and forth with a single wagon (!). As it was due to be replaced anyway I opted to see if part of it could be recovered as the basis of the new scene rather than start afresh. Very carefully, having mapped out the cuts, and then carefully separated just the top cardboard layer of the foamcore board, I found that it could...

The result above shows the result after some work to make up the gaps in the ground cover, some new areas of grass from hanging basket liner, additional ground cover from scatter applied over hairspray and some grass moss strands. The existing point lever, a vintage OO gauge item, was cleaned up, Grandt Line bolt heads added and suitably painted and weathered.

Although I have made preparations for another O9 scene it is on hold as the next project will be a reworking of 'The Path to...' to bring the textures and detail into line with the latest creations. Watch this space!


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Farewell Markeaton Park

The news came through this week that the Markeaton Park Light Railway in Derby had closed, with one of the reasons cited as non-renewal of the lease when it expires at the end of the year. It was also rumoured that track lifting would commence immediately and that a the rolling stock had been sold to a new home.
Happier times, 'Markeaton Lady' and matching Exmoor stock on 8th June 2008

I first became aware of this line in the early 1990s as it was listed as a location of a 15” gauge railway with a Maxitrax petrol locomotive. However, it was not until a news item appeared in the ‘Railway Magazine’ in 1996 covering the change in ownership to the Bull family and purchase of an Exmoor Steam Railway 0-4-2T locomotive and coaching stock that the urge to visit appeared. This duly occurred in April 1997 and whilst ‘Markeaton Lady’ was not in steam, we were able to view it in the cavernous shed and ride behind the Alan Keef diesel ‘Cromwell’. On subsequent visits we were able to travel behind steam until the locomotive was withdrawn for overhaul and subsequently sold to the Evesham Vale Light Railway where it now runs as 'Monty'.

Our last ride, 'City of Derby' with the ex-Fairbourne stock on 30th January 2016

The railway soldiered on with the diesel locomotive ‘City of Derby’ as sole motive power, although from some of the reports of cancelled services on their Facebook page, not always the most reliable of machines! Our last visit to the railway came by chance in January this year on the day of the 7mm NGA Derby Members day, when a sunny afternoon saw us call in at the park on the return home, simply on the basis that it had been a few years since we had visited. We had a ride in the rake of ex-Fairbourne coaching stock that had always been in the shed on previous visits but we did not get to see or ride in the refurbished Exmoor stock that will no doubt give good service to their new owner. 

The station area, taken on our first visit on 3rd April 1997

From a modelling point of view the main station area has (had) a very modelegenic air to it, a simple loop and two lines heading into the shed, itself a remnant of the armed forces occupation of the park in the 1940s where it served as the NAAFI (and inside still had the counter and shutters to prove it). Inside the shed another point provided a third line, almost as if it were a real-life fiddle yard, enabling the railway to store all of its stock under cover with space to spare. I’ve often thought that with some subtle adjustment at the Markeaton Park setting, especially with the curve heading out of the station, could lend itself to the ‘Shifting Sands’ format rather well…


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Introducing 'St Edwin' - Exmoor in Miniature

Custom produced etched name and works plates for my Exmoor project arrived from Narrow Planet early in August, and this weekend I have finally plucked up the courage to fix them in position. I can therefore present the third Exmoor 15" gauge 'Saint'* - '[i]St Edwin[/i]'...

After fitting the plates using matt varnish I applied a little light weathering to tone down the smokebox, cylinders, cab roof and buffer beams and added a finishing touch of an oil can sat in one of the bunkers, something I noticed in pictures of 'King Arthur' at Rudyard lake.

I'm really pleased with how this project has turned out, although there are a number of compromises I feel that it really captures the Exmoor 'look'. I just need to arrange somewhere to give it a good run as 'Shifting Sands' is in storage...


*following in the footsteps of 'St Christopher' at Bressingham (ex Windmill Farm) and 'St Egwin' at Evesham Vale.

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!