Sunday, 31 January 2016

Mickleover, Markeaton and Magazines

An annual January trip out is to the 7mm NGA's Trent Valley open day held at the community centre in Mickleover, Derby. There was a great selection of exhibits again this year, from the West Midlands area group's modular layout to several small layout concepts. As the West Midlands group includes Allen Law of MG Models I was able to select some flat brass from his secret box of kits (who needs a trade stand?!). I also a picked up a diverse collection of odds and sods, which will no doubt make their way into future projects at some point...

I spent some time chatting with Andy Greenslade, editor of the Association's "Minimum Gauge Handbook" about various potential ideas, one of which involved the Fairbourne Railway's catering van in a diorama (don't get too excited just yet), which was followed by a ride in genuine ex-Fairbourne Railway stock at the Markeaton Park Light Railway on the way home.

On arrival home the latest issue of 'Narrow Lines' from the 7mm NGA had arrived, featuring my article on the Chivers O9 coach kit and some conversions involving Dapol railbus parts. Nothing readers of the blog haven't already seen, but vital in spreading the O9 word! There are a couple of other O9 articles to come, so watch that space....


Monday, 18 January 2016

The Path To... (Part 2)

When we last looked at this micro-diorama the basic scenery had been completed using ground foam and hanging basket liner. The next stage was to add some texture and colour variation to the grassed areas using some Silfor 'tufts' and Gaugemaster/Noch laser cut plants.

With the glue dry I carefully dry-brushed the tufts with a light grey/green mix of acrylic paint to reduce the sheen, and applied matt varnish to the laser cut plants to tone them down a little.

I also set about many areas of the scene with weathering powders, applying greys to the ballast and pathway areas, some earth tones around the edges of the grass beside the ballast and path, and finally some blown sand around the path edges and steps.

As you may have already guessed, the idea is to show that this is the path to the beach and hint at a seaside location. Perhaps the path to... Shifting Sands?

I do plan to add some signs warning of the crossing, but until then it has gone into the display cabinet. My usual light-wood surround and lettering completes the scene - or does it? As an experiment I have added a small backscene in the display cabinet to add to the illusion of depth. The beach hut scene is my own photo taken at Chapel St Leonards, given a watercolour filter in 'Photoshop' and printed on canvas photo paper.

Whether it is an experiment to be repeated, we shall see, I'm always looking at how items can be displayed and there are pros and cons to the micro-diorama approach, not least that it shows up that the cabinet shelves are not totally flat!


Monday, 4 January 2016

The Path To... (Part 1)

'Son of Up-cycle'

Started as an experiment made from MDF offcuts mitre-fixed end-on this is intended as one of my slimline dioramas that fit in my wall-mounted display case. As it uses track from the original 'Up-cycle' and more recycled material it really is the next step in the Up-cycle saga! In original form it was too narrow and I had put it to one side awaiting inspiration. Doodling saw me first add a building along the rear to add depth, followed by the thought of adding a strip of timber and building up the ground level in a bank, inspired by the cafe area and steps on 'Shifting Sands'.

A balsa strip was added along the rear to add 5mm to the depth, and as a basis of the banking and steps. Being carveable balsa is idea for this task as a hard edge to the top of the bank has been avoided. Steps are built up from foamcore and mount board. Button polish has been used on exposed timber and card surfaces to toughen it up and help avoid warping.

Slow progress was then made, partly to check that the MDF base wasn't warping under the stresses of scenic applications. The banked area has been filled with kitchen roll and covered with strips of newspaper held in place with diluted PVA.  Ballasting has taken place, Woodland Scenics materials secured with 'Kleer'.

Basic textures were added to the concrete steps, tarmac path and ground areas. Both made use of Green Scene textured paints, concrete for the steps, general muck for the tarmac. The latter had some plaster added to lighten it a little. The ground used my mix of paint/PVA and plaster left over from 'The Headshunt'. Think plywood planking makes up the crossing timbers.

Both the steps and path had some adjustments to both texture and colour, with a little weathering added. More colour variation will be built up in due course using weathering powders. At the far end some of my pre-made paving slabs form a short section of retaining wall. The ground areas have been covered with what is described as 'Shifting Sands earth mix' - Woodland Scenics fine earth and fine sand for the coastal sandy look.

Once the turf was dry and excess vacuumed off, PVA was applied again and hanging basket liner applied. Even the hanging basket liner was recycled, the other side of the pieces used on 'The Headshunt'! Once left for 3-4 hours this was carefully teased away to leave plentiful grass coverage. This was trimmed back with a disposable razor and nail scissors to give the effect below.

In part 2 I'll show the extras added to the grassland and the final weathering of the trackwork and pathway.


Friday, 1 January 2016


A "Happy New Year" from O9 Modeller...

A new year and one destined to be full of change. Life is set to change again in a way that will put even more pressure on time and space in the Peake family 'cottage' for the foreseeable future. I think that this time it may be the catalyst for major changes in the way hobby time is conducted (if indeed much remains in the future) and the nature of what is produced. I've hinted at this previously with my 'nagging doubts' about the railway cupboard workbench (see 'Ten') but it seems to be the time to seriously consider the options, not least as I feel that the square footage occupied by the bench and legroom underneath may be required domestically. 

So where could the workbench wander? Whilst the dark, wet evenings of the past week are enough to put anyone off wanting to move lock, stock and barrel to the workshop, it is an option, despite being uninsulated and rather anti-social! To be honest, I have grabbed a few moments in there of late for an ongoing diorama project, as seen here (more another time):

Also under consideration is some sort of portable workbench, maybe a  return of the “kitchen table workshop”. I'm working through the potential issues so hopefully something will be feasible. As for what is produced, we shall see, the more eagle eyed will have spotted some excessive wagon tinkering again, including a potential diversion to O-16.5....