Thursday, 13 October 2016

More News From Llangunllo...

In truth not much has been happening on the modelling front, and that's been down to a major DIY project, gardening duties and a holiday. However the goods inwards department has been busy, a recent arrival being a supply of Silflor which I ordered directly from the manufacturer in Germany.

This is 1:87 scale 'Late fall pasture', which is ideal for creating dried grass, the sort that you come across towards the end of summer.  I've also purchased some of the same material in 1:45 scale, to represent taller overgrown grasses.

I also took a punt with what is described as 1:87 'Early fall proliferation area'.  Both landscape mats will be torn into clumps and mixed with other materials.  Thus giving a variety of textures, colours and height.  These mats don't come cheap, but then quality never does.
I have managed a little modelling in, and around the goods yard.  I felt that a small coal office and store might fit into the scene.  So Henry Stephens now has a new, more humble premises from which to ply his trade.
I was never really happy with the original building, and felt it let the old layout down.  In fact the best part was the sign that my good friend Iain Robinson produced for me.  So I salvaged that along with the etched window frames, and looked for something more suitable.  Coal was stored in the old Llangunllo yard, but I decided not to provide any such facilities in the new one.  For it was common practice for coal merchants to bag and weigh their wares on site.  Our local merchant would park his ex army Austin K2, or in latter years his brand new Bedford TK, beside the coal wagons, and shovel coal directly from rail wagon to truck platform.  He would then bag and weigh his wares in one go, either delivering his orders straight away, or taking the bagged coal to his secure storage area, which was behind his cottage.  A right eyesore that was, but fortunately he had no near neighbours to complain.

Heaven knows what Henry thinks of his new office, or should I say shed.  Its a simple 40 thou styrene structure, well braced internally to prevent any chance of warping, and overlaid with Slaters 2mm embossed planking.  The windows, doors and fittings are from the excellent Brassmasters range.  With a corrugated iron roof, and rainwater goods from the Wills range of material packs, but slightly refined to give a finer look.  The sign, salvaged from the old building has found a new home, and is braced by two wire stays.  The shed was first primed in grey acrylic, then the wooden planking, door and windows were picked out in cream and green enamels.  Once dry a few strokes of the old glass fibre pencil removed some of the paint, revealing the grey primer beneath.  Then washes of dirty grey, and green to represent weathered wood, and mould stains were applied.  A little talc, brushed over the wood work gave it a more faded look.  Shades of rust weathering powders were applied to the rainwater goods, and roof, to give it some texture.  Plenty of long unkempt grass was planted, in hope of everything blending together to give an air of neglect.  A simple corrugated iron shed,  which is nothing more than a cut down Wills lamp hut, which first saw light of day at Penhydd, provides a place to store the shovels, pick axe, and other tools.  The coal man probably takes shelter there, when the near horizontal rain is whipping across the exposed landscape.
You will have to excuse the lack of couplings on the 16 tonner, its one of several that are waiting to be fitted with smaller, coupling mounts and loops.

Inspiration for the office came from within the pages of 'The New Radnor Branch' by Nicholas de Courtais.  The real office was a little too grand for a backwater like Llangunllo, so my model is based on it, rather than being faithfully modelled.  This is an early view prior to the shed being tidied up, weathered and glazing installed.

Another view of the shed, clearly showing the door handle, letterbox and signage.
Moving on, earlier in the year I took advantage of the warm weather and primed my A44 driving trailer.  The body and underframe were not screwed together when this photo was taken, hence the gap and misalignment between the two.  To the best of my knowledge all of these coaches were painted in BR maroon and fully lined.  But I'm hoping to find an example in unlined crimson, which should make for a pleasant winter research project, something to keep me occupied during the long winter nights.  I think the A44 makes a pleasant change from the usual detailed Airfix auto-coach, or the latest Bachmann Hawksworth version, both of which are all too common.
Well that just about brings everything up to date, later this week I expect to put the Silflor to good use, and all being well the backscene will finally be installed.

Stop Press!.

Well changing to Wordpress appears to have been a mistake, for its created far more problems than it solved.  I won't go into details here as I know many people are more than happy with Wordpress, and anyway it might well be me, my laptop or other outside factors that are making things difficult.  If that wasn't enough far more people are using the old site here, than the new, so perhaps they are trying to tell me something?  Fortunately I hadn't got around to deleting the old blog, and I've noticed that the missing blog roll has reappeared, albeit in a slightly different format, and with some blogs missing.  If yours is one of them then please let me know and I will reinstate it.  I've also noticed that a lot of posts have been duplicated, and I'll sort that out in due course.  So for the time being it will be business as usual on Blogger, until I make the final decision on my blogging future.  Sorry to have messed everyone about, but I had to investigate other means of publishing my modelling, for what its worth.


Friday, 9 September 2016

Slowly going Green....

I've started to experiment with the 'Heki' and 'Noch' landscape mats that I purchased a few months ago, and so far so good.  Though I still prefer Silflor, so seeing as I can't get hold of what I want in this country, I've ordered some directly from Silhouette, in Germany.

First of all I sealed, and painted the bare plaster bandage, a coat of a light earth coloured matt emulsion, being followed with Sap Green, and Burnt Sienna artist acrylics.  The old platelayers hut has found a new home, and is in the process of being bedded into the new scenery.  Long, dried grass is slowly being added around the hut, and behind the station building.  This is the 'Noch' meadow mat, which is rather dense and best torn into clumps.

Though the colour looks just right in this photo, its actually too yellow for my liking, but I can get around that by introducing some different coloured clumps, and textures from other mats, together with some static grass fibres.  Colours change under different lighting conditions, just as in the real world, so care needs to be taken when selecting scenic items.

This section of embankment is purely experimental as regards the materials used, but otherwise its a true representation of the scene that I'm aiming for.  The low tree line was cut from a scrap piece of backscene that was lying around, and pasted onto some thin card.  Its an old technique, mastered by the likes of Ken Ball, and numerous other well known modellers of the old school.  The reason for my experiments, is to see if it might add something to the backscene when I finally get around to installing it.  There is also the chance that I might get things slightly out of alignment, so its a form of insurance policy against such mistakes as well. The tree is just one of many salvaged from the old layout, its fine for use in the background, but perhaps not good enough for use elsewhere.   I first laid some strips of the 'Noch' material, along the top of the embankment to represent those long, dried blades of grass that are often found in such places.  The rest is 'Heki' autumn meadow grass, which is very fine, and perhaps best teased out, the resulting gaps being filled with other materials as mentioned previously.

The 'Heki' autumn meadow is more natural looking, still not as good as Silflor, but not a bad alternative if you can't get the real thing. Again, the addition of some static grasses, and other textures will lift the product.  When selecting scenic materials its important to select a certain time of year, and stick to it.  I favour early to late autumn myself, so select the colours that are found at that time of year.  It also pays to spend a little more and buy quality products, the days when basic scatter, and ground foam materials, were the first choice are long gone, they do have their uses, but for creating realistic grass effects they are a little lacking.  Sadly, many UK modellers rarely want to spend their hard earned cash on expensive scenic materials, and go for the cheapest option. Preferring to save their money for locomotives and more exotic items of rolling stock, but each to his own.

Henry Stephens now plys his trade from a humble wooden shack, and corrugated iron shed.  This bleak scene, so typical of those places that are 'off the beaten track', is still being developed.  There is a slight gap between the earthworks in the background and backscene, which helps create a little more depth, and makes it easier to blend the modelled scenery into the backscene.  'Noch' grass is in evidence again, and is, at the moment looking far too dry for the Border Counties.  A few more faded greens should put that right, far better to add changes of colour and texture slowly, if you ask me. Rather than jumping in feet first and trying to do everything in one go.

I'm modelling a different type of yard surface this time, gone are the cobble, and set stones.  Instead its just made of gravel, ash and other similar cheap materials .  The starting point for the surface was a piece of glasspaper, which had been sprayed in grey acrylic primer from an aerosol can.  Various shades of grey, mixed up at random from black, and white artist acrylics were applied next, followed by a little dry brushing of the same basic colours, and some weathering powders.  The colours and textures are still, slowly being worked up, a few more weeds will appear, and that will be that.  The grass at the base of the low wall is made from tufts of Silflor, its a little greener around the roots, as its assumed that rainwater runs down the approach road and settles along the foot of the wall.  The tips of the grass blades are slightly lighter where they have caught the sun, take a walk along a country lane and you will understand what I'm harping on about.

Grass and weeds are also taking root around the goods shed, which is now awaiting some rainwater goods, and a coat of paint, or should that be rust?  It won't be long now before I can think about adding the photo backscene, and then I will have a better idea if Llangunllo, is going to look as I see it in my minds eye.

An old weighbridge hut, or whatever it might have been in its past life, is slowly being reclaimed by nature.  Which in this case is a mix of hanging basket liner, and the same 'Heki' and 'Noch' mats.  Such ruins are common place, yet rarely modelled, I did consider modelling the remains of an old loading dock as well, but perhaps not.

This is the scene today, seen through the lens of my better half's new camera, its simpler and more open, yet just as satisfying for me.  Once my order of Silflor arrives, it will be put to use on the main embankment.  As you will have gathered, there's still plenty to do yet, like putting the signal box back correctly, but the way things are going I expect the rebuild to be completed by Easter 2017, not that I've set myself a target.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Well and truly plastered.....

Life has been getting in the way of my modelling for the past few weeks, home improvements, outings, and the task of converting my vast selection of slides into digital form taking up most of my spare time.  But despite those distractions, I have managed to snatch the odd moment here, and there to make a little more progress on the layout.  A trip to the doctors for a routine checkup, resulted in me leaving with some plaster bandages, odd roll ends which were going to be thrown away.  I had asked if I might have a supply, and was told to help myself, and that is how the health service funded part of the scenery for Llangunllo.

Its a long time since I've used plaster bandage to model my terrain, and three hours later it looked like Llangunllo had suffered from a fall of snow.  So this is how the layout looks now, the eagle eyed will have spotted the goods shed taking shape, more of which another time.  Yes, its rather close to the trap point, but then again so was the one at Hemyock along with its cattle dock.  I can, if I wish move the shed further away from the trap, but its fine where it is for now.

I did consider building a smaller cattle dock, and positioning it next to the goods shed in true Llansilin Road fashion, but in the end I decided to leave things as they are.

If you look through the bridge arch you will be able to see an embankment beyond it.  Its only mocked up for now, the idea being to make the cassette deck partly scenic, and I think I've solved the problem of how the actual cassettes can be made to blend into the said embankment.  Of course it will mean modelling, and ballasting the track on the outer ends of each cassette to match that on the rest of the layout.  But I think it will be worth it, as not only will it make the layout look longer, but it should open up some interesting photographic opportunities.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

News from Llangunllo....

My modelling time has been severely restricted over the past week, in fact other than a little pondering and experimentation hardly any progress has been made.  On the pondering side, I've decided that the goods shed will be built on a timber trestle base, as per the prototype at Llansilin Road.

I've also made a few adjustment to the original mock up, the roof pitch is now shallower and the height of the walls reduced by a scale foot.  A start has also been made on the timber base, which is being made from balsa strip and ply sleepers.

Meanwhile the goods yard continues to be developed, a low stone wall made from 'Foamex' runs along the perimeter of the yard. But once plenty of tall grasses have been added it should be almost hidden from view, well that's the plan for what its worth.  The yard is much wider than it looks in this photo, and the backscene will provide a little more depth once its in place.

My search for scenic materials continues, and I recently took a look at this 'Heki' autumn meadow grass.  I did want a pack of wild meadow grass as well but I'm told its currently out of stock, still I'm in no rush.

I blew the cobwebs off 2538 the other day, and carried out a few cosmetic repairs.  She still needs a couple of lamp irons after suffering a little damage, but fortunately still runs as well as ever.  The meadow grass will be mixed with other shades and textures to complete the embankment.

blogI'm almost ready to add the backscene now, and then this area can be worked up a little more.  Had the real railway been built, then 2538 would be at its summit once she's crossed the river bridge.

Before I sign off, a plug for my new blog . The first post will no doubt come as a surprise, but my introduction will explain what its all about :-)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Developing the goods yard.......

Llangunllo goods yard, if you can call it that, is as simple as they come, being typical of those found out in the back of beyond.  The local coal merchant bags, and weighs his supplies direct from the wagon, there being no storage facilities in the yard.  This was common practice in out of the way places, where security, amongst other things could be an issue.  A yard crane is provided to handle any heavy, or awkward loads, but what about a goods shed? Well I had three ideas, a simple weed infested loading bank, with perhaps a grounded van body, and a couple of tatty corrugated iron huts.  A shed constructed of the same material, shades of Penhydd, which was modelled on the one at Hemyock, and last of all an old coach body, most of its windows being plated over, and a door cut into its side.  All had their merits, but as usual I was looking for something different.

I started off by modelling a simple loading bank, the type made from old sleepers and whatever else could be pressed into use. Most were back filled with rubble, ash, and other waste material to provide a raised platform.  Following prototype practice, I made mine from old sleepers, which are yet to be stained, weathered, and detailed, that will come later.

Not content to leave things at that, I dug these old, well thumbed books out.  What a bargain they were, when first published by Peco way back in the late sixties!   Book number one includes plans for Leckhampton goods shed, which lay between Kingham and Cheltenham.  Its a weird design, certainly different, and no doubt that is why it appealed to me, so out came a piece of card, and a rough mock up was made.

Planning, pondering and experimenting, I really enjoy those exercises.  The drawing for the Leckhampton shed, and my version, mocked up from card are on the left.  Whilst another weird and wonderful structure, namely Llansilin Road goods shed, plucked from the long defunct 'Tanat Valley Railway' is on the right.  I had come across this 'quirky' building, as Iain Robinson describes it, whilst searching through my many books for ideas and inspiration.  You can just catch a glimpse of it in the photo on the right, were it not for the rules of copyright, I would show you more.

The Leckhampton mock up in situ, its a lovely little building, but alas it looks more 'Caledonian' with its hipped roof and overhanging eaves, than GWR.  I expect you are wondering what on earth was I thinking off, well I thought it might blend in with the signal box, which shares the same style of roof.

Llangunllo signal box, hipped roof, overhanging eaves and all, this scene is now slowly being recreated on the new layout.

My version of Llansilin Road good shed is mounted on a loading bank, rather than a wooden trestle base, as on the prototype.  I've not got the canopy right, it should extend further out, and the height of the building needs reducing by around a scale foot, the pitch of the roof needs to be much shallower as well.  This is how building a mock up pays off, had I jumped in feet first, then I would have wasted some valuable modelling material.

But its not just about the building itself, I always consider how they fit into the wider picture. I then ask myself if there is a better way of doing things, does the scene look realistic, and create the all important atmosphere?  Only when I'm happy do I press ahead, but despite taking everything into consideration, I still get caught out from time to time.

I think the prototype had a pair of hinged doors, rather than a single sliding one.  The shed has been in situ for a day or two now, and yes, I will be building it from a mixture of Wills, and Slaters corrugated sheets, the later being finer, and more suited for the roof, and canopy.

That area of unkempt grass on the left will cover the remains, of what would have been a longer loading bank in years past.  I have the idea, of partly burying the foundations of the old Llangunllo quarry weighbridge hut in the grass, just to give a hint that something else once stood there.

This view gives an idea of the canopy height, it can be lowered a fair bit, yet still give adequate clearance for the chimney of 1455, and other engines.  So what next, well now that I know the footprint of the goods shed and station building, I can lay in the rest of the scenery foundations, complete the plasterwork, paint it, and put the backscene in place.  I've still got that damn point rodding to sort out as well, but don't feel in the mood to fire the soldering iron up just yet.

Moving off topic, I'm in the process of preparing a new blog for some of my prototype photos. Which include BR in the 70's, the early preservation scene, and more recent bits and bobs.  Once I'm ready to publish them, a link will be appear under 'Other blogs' on the right hand side bar.  Updates won't appear as often as they do here, but nevertheless I think you will find something of interest.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Groundwork Days.....

The point rodding has been postponed yet again, as I didn't really fancy the idea of firing up the soldering iron in the current heatwave.  So I switched my attention to completing the stonework on the platform face, then painted it, and prepared the base for the platform surface.

This is how the scene looked a week ago today, with the card platform surface, and station approach laid in place.  The card lattice scenery support now blends into everything, and is ready for its top surface.

Of course I was desperate to see how the whole basic scene would look with a train beside the platform.  So 1455 had the honour of arriving with the first passenger train to call at the new Llangunllo station.

She later returned with a short goods train, though with no cassette lined up, she won't travel much further!

The platform top surface is glass paper, which was first sprayed with Carplan acrylic primer, to seal the surface, and prevent the material from becoming a soggy mess when its painted and weathered.  Coping stones have been scribed onto strips of thin card.  Foamboard was used for the platform face, the stones being scribed into it and then sprayed with the same acrylic primer.  Humbrol enamels were then used to paint the stones, light and dark earth, track colour and various mixes of the three, being dry brushed across the stones, so that just a little paint at a time was dragged off the brush.  From some angles the stonework looks grey, but that is down to the lighting that I currently use.

With the basic platform complete, I tried a few experiments.  The Coopercraft GWR seat is one of two salvaged from Penhydd, and will be repainted in faded 'chocolate'.  I'm not sure if the lamp hut will end up being positioned end on, as above, or sideways as below.  Some typical GWR spear fencing will run along the platform where that rough grass has sprung up, and a gate of the same construction, sited between the station building toilet block, and the last tuft of grass will provide access to the platform.  More of the same fencing will run from the other end of the building towards the bridge, and this time a running in board will be modelled.

The platform surface was painted with various mixes of black and white artist acrylics, coping stones were picked out in Humbrol concrete, and then given a light wash of track colour, which seeped into the joints between them.  A few weeds have been planted, and more will follow as the surface continues to be worked up.

Further detailing will include some drainage grids, and perhaps a manhole cover.  The etch is from the Brassmasters range, as is the one containing point rodding cranks etc, etc.

More weeds appear day by day, applying them is one of those small jobs that can be done between other projects and chores.

The buffer stop is slowly disappearing into a mass of long grass and weeds.....

..........more of which are springing up elsewhere.  What happens next will depend on the weather, should the heatwave subside, then the soldering iron will be fired up.  If not then a start on the goods yard surface might be made.