Saturday, 31 August 2019

Ah... Winter

This video by Kathy Millatt cropped up on my Youtube feed a couple of weeks ago.


I'm not saying that I've lost my mojo. The long silence is due to a winter illness - it a sort of occupational hazard in my line of work. And this year it brought it's a game.

I've had a couple of other railway related things going on as well, so they have take up the fifteen minutes a day that I philosophise.

If you haven't already seen this clip, give it a go.

Until next time.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Putting things off.

You know those jobs that aren't really difficult but you want a bit of time to do them? Like installing point motors for example.

It has taken a while to put them in. Not because it was a difficult task but because it was a little awkward. It involved soldering and drilling and pulling stuff out from under the layout. Not hard stuff but a reckoned that it would take me a couple of hours, so I kept putting it off until I could tackle it in one go. I should have looked at other jobs to do but that seemed too difficult.

It took a little bit more time than I thought but I took my time and the job is finally done.

The point motors are for the top station of Awdry as a couple of the points are out of arms reach and require a little stool to operate. Not any more.



Four point motors were installed. Three at the end of Awdry station (top) and one ate Brewery Lane station. (Bottom) The latter allows access to the grain silos.

One of the points at Awdry required a bit of packing to operate properly.

Tonight's effort was using my new Peco Static Grass Applicator. I threw the old one out as it wasn't as safe as I thought. The Peco one is much better and less likely to stop your heart. It was a very narrow strip between the track on the edge of the top level but it still needed some grass.


As I have an operating session in the first week of the month, I am not too keen to do anything too major with the layout. A bit more ballasting and retaining wall building will probably fill the time between now and then.

Until next time.


Saturday, 25 May 2019

Cattle Yard

With the tarmac down, the next bit along is the cattle yard.

The ramps and pens were built for an Inglenook style shunting layout in 2002. I was using four wheel wagons, mainly S trucks and a sheep van. They were reused in 2005 when I built a larger layout and needed a cattle yard. 

The yard is small but considering that it is on the edge of the baseboard I reckon that I can get away with it.


I have been thinking about how to get some dirt texture onto the plywood. To be honest, I was going for something cheap and easy for a Thursday night. The answer came with sandpaper. I have heaps of it that I bought years ago. I cut out some 240 sand paper and dry brushed it with some dark brown acrylic paint. There were a couple of sections that weren't dry brushed and didn't look good. I rubbed this bit off with my finger and dry brushed it again.

It was glued in place and left to dry.

The pens needed a little bit of repair, as did the ramps. For the tall ramp, one of the long supports needed to be replaced. The ramps were originally scratch built with Evergreen styrene. The fences are from Atlas. There was more fencing but it hasn't seemed to survive as well as the pens. New fencing was added down the sides. I'm hoping that the the way they finish at the edge of the baseboard gives the impression that they carry on towards the viewer. These fences are the same kind used for the cattle dock on Billabong Marina and the the grassy car park by the station.

The repairs are a slightly different colour and I'm okay with that because they are bits which were recently repaired.

It was all stuck down with PVA and few bits of green added for good measure. The cows are removable. No pun intended.

The bare plywood next to the cattle yard has since been painted burnt umber so that I don't make the same mistake when putting the static grass on the next section.

The next step is to ballast that bit of track and put down some more grass. Sooner or later though, I'm going to need to wire up some points. That might be a job for the long week end.

Until next time.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Sometimes Things Need To Be Done Twice

Work on the next bit was going well. On day one the next section of wall below Awdry was cut out and Scalescene's red brick glued on top. Day two saw most of the plinth added, except that I ran out of brick paper. I printed another sheet off and it was a different, more saturated colour.

I experimented a bit and worked out that with my Epsom printer (a really cheap inkjet), if I print off more than one sheet, then the colours are faded.

I don't know why. It didn't happen with the old printer. 

I printed off a whole heap of new sheets of brick paper in individual one sheet jobs. Check out the difference. The top half is the first attempt.


The wall was finished and a quick trip to the layout yesterday saw the tarmac put down for the loading area and the coal conveyer.


The next bit to sort out is the small cattle yard next to the tarmac.

Until next time.


Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Oil Depot Part 2

The oil depot is finished. 

The area was given some static grass and other bits of foliage. One mistake that I did make was not painting the baseboard first. This meant that some pen marks made on the baseboard were visible. I think that I may have tried to cover too big an area at one time and some of the glue had dried. This led to bald patches.

However, both of these issues were covered up with a bit of extra stuff.

Once everything was glued and stray bits vacuumed up, Billabong Marina was reattached. The chunks of lichen have come close to completing the job which I had intended. It might need a couple of more bits added.


The plywood that you can see will be covered up later.

The oil depot isn't looking too bad though. The oil loading platform had its damaged bits reattached (except for one of the filling pipes which is somewhere but not readily found) and placed into position. The platform must be about old enough to vote in the coming election and has been on a couple of other layouts before. It is made from two Walthers kits joined together.

As well as static grass, dyed sawdust, foam ground cover and lichen were also used to add some more character to the area. I also added some Noch laser cut flowers to add some small pops of colour. I have no idea what types of plants they are.






 I know that there will be some bits that not many people will be able to see without a step ladder but I have a couple of tall people in my operating group, I know that they'll appreciate the efforts.

What's next?

To be honest, I need to clean up a bit. I have another operating session planned and I need to put some things away.

After that, I have this little section:


It is a small little siding which hold no more than three bogie wagons. One spot will be for a small cattle yard. I have a few cattle wagons and they need a destination or two. The local dairy farmers will need to ship their cows in from somewhere and this cattle yard will help them out. The second spot will be for whatever needs to be unloaded there. The last spot is for unloading a coal hopper using a mobile conveyer. 

When I was at the Strasburg Railroad in the States last year I saw a grain hopper being unloaded into a truck using a conveyer. Model Railroader had an article about unloading coal hoppers into trucks using a mobile conveyer with one of their special project layouts as a small industry. I also found a pack of the Walthers kits in the model shop across road from the Strasburg Railroad. I thought that I could maybe modify it to unload grain. I haven't looked into it too much yet. In each pack, you get three of the mobile conveyers, so I reckon I'll get to it eventually.

Here's the plan for completing this section.

1. Make more retaining wall.
2. Use Scalescenes tarmac files for the coal unloading and middle wagon spots.
3. Repair the cattle ramps and adapt the fencing for the stock yard.
4. Find something suitable for the surface of the cattle yard.
5. Ballast track.
6. Add some more grass.

Until next time.

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Oil Depot Part 1

Last week was pretty hectic with a couple of afterwork and evening meetings. This week has a couple as well. But I still made time for my fifteen minutes on the layout. 

Some of the tasks took longer than I had planned but there was progress every day. Here's a great tip which I wish that I had thought of ages ago. Always take a photo of you work when you have finished for the day. As you flip through your images, you get to see your progress.

The oil depot had its concrete base added using printed sheets from Scalescenes dock edge downloadable kit. It is just the same page printed over and over again.

Once the cardboard packing was cut out, a template was made by rubbing a pencil over the edges of the tracks. This was transferred onto thin cardboard and cut out. The sleepers take up about 5 mm of space. The concrete prints were then glued onto the cardboard. It was wrapped around the edges.


Once this was done, the concrete was printed onto thin card. This was then cut to shape and glued in between the rails. The whole lot was glued down using a Bostik glue stick.


A fence was added too. This comes from Kibri and is left over from building Billabong Marina. (Check out that blog here.) It was sprayed grey and glued in place. I used the glue stick again to tack it into place. When I apply the static grass the PVA will do a better job.


This afternoon's effort was adding some ballast. I'm using the list that I made last week.

Jobs for this week:
1. Apply static grass between the run around track and the first oil depot siding.

6. Glue more static grass (not on the same day or the grass sticks to the ballast.)

8. Repair oil loading platform. 

Seeing as items 1 and 6 are the same, it looks like I'll be up to the next section but the end of the week.

Until next time.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

The Wall Part 1

The rock wall is in place and has a bit of greenery added. Overall, I think that the alfoil mould experiment worked well. I have ordered some casting plaster and bought some super strong foil for next time.


I also a started building a retaining wall. This was done with Scalescenes retaining wall kit. The kit was not built as per the instructions but made in such a way that it fits in the space available. If you've not seen Scalecenes before click here. You buy their kit and run it off as many times as you need to.

Everything finishes flush with the top of the above baseboard. The concrete for the oil depot will sit on top.

The retaining was was needed as the next section was a bridge.


More Scalescenes retaining wall was printed off. 

The brick wall is glued onto matte board used by people framing artworks or photos. I have some offcuts kicking about. The plinths at the bottom are glued onto double thickness cardboard. The columns are glued onto thin card and then glued on after the plinths have been added. At all stages of construction effort was made to wrap the paper around the cardboard.

The bridge was completed with some girder shaped Evergreen styrene strip painted grey. The inspiration came from the flyover at the western end of Strathfield station. I'll need to add some more to stick underneath the top baseboard to hide the empty cavern.

The aim of this was to complete this bit before finishing off the oil depot on the top.


Now I have started this bit. I have cut the packing cardboard from an old corrugated cardboard box. This had a bulk order of cat food in it. The large section near the camera will be the last bit to be glued down. I'm going to use Scalescenes concrete to complete the oil depot. This came as part of a dockside kit which I bought years ago. The gaps between the tracks will be glued onto cardboard and then glued onto the the packing cardboard. The large section will have the paper wrapped around the visible edge to tidy it up. In between the rails, the concrete paper will be glued to cardboard and then glued onto the sleepers.

Jobs for this week:
1. Apply static grass between the run around track and the first oil depot siding.
2. Finish off the packing pieces of cardboard. (I only have two bit to go and they are straight.)
3. Cut out the top bits of card and print sheets of concrete paper.
4. Glue it together.
5. Ballast track.
6. Glue more static grass (not on the same day or the grass sticks to the ballast.)
7. Put up fence.
8. Repair oil loading platform.

I'm hoping to get the top four done at least.

Until next time.