Canadian Throwback Thursday 

A week ago, the view from the ‘office’. The office being a chair on a dock pontoon for a short break away from normal life. This is the Canadian ‘Near North’ a days drive directly north from Toronto. The benefits of getting away from civilisation are refreshing, the nearest shop, a trading post and post office is 7km away, essential if posting a beaver or two, and the nearest town, doctors etc., 60km away. That’s a bit of an eye opener for us brits, like driving from London to Oxford to go to your nearest fish and chip shop!


This is the view from the ‘local’ fire lookout tower, you can’t see where we were based, it’s over the horizon 40km south of here, and nothing but a mix of deciduous and pine forest and lakes between. What being out in the True north did for me was to allow me to look at trees, unsurprisingly, they’re quite common in this area. When not fishing, I spent a bit of time in a Kayak which allows you to get into the shore line in remote areas.


 I like the challenge of effectively modelling woodlands, and my current project is set deep in a wooded area, and the next one is already turning the cogs. For example how the pine trees and birch and maple grow together, they show a real interaction, woodland so often modelled as a block of similar masses of green. I’m looking to do two types of layout, one in winter and the other in the autumn change over, both shelf layouts and branch/short line subjects, winter for the UK and autumn for the True North.


Modelling specific locations require a good amount of observation to carry them convincingly and capturing the forest environment will be key to both projects.


The next steps in the layout builds is working out the fastest and best way to get a forest growing, the Woodland Scenics tree armatures and those from C&L already showing great promise. In the next week or so the new baseboard kit arrives, so I’ll have two simultaneous projects ticking over which should keep me on my toes..


And for the Canucks out there, thanks for the welcome and hospitality a real True North experience.

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Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, Cameo, Cameo layout, canada, dcc sound, finescale, Friends, HO, hobbies, Hornby, Inspiration, Layout, life, media, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, Ontario, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Rapido Trains, research, shelfie, social media, throwback thursday, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, travel, True North, Uncategorized, usa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

#wordless Wednesday 

Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, canada, DCC, dcc sound, finescale, HO, hobbies, iain rice, Inspiration, Kalmbach, Layout, life, media, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Rapido Trains, research, social media, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, travel, usa, wordless wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Setting the Scene

Black Lion Crossing EM Gauge Geoff Kent

Last week I had the privilege of a call from Roy Jackson asking for a few of my thoughts. A brave man. So I gave him a few of them and then we got on with the matter in hand. Geoff Kent, one of the UK’s most accomplished modellers is taking his new EM gauge layout ‘Black Lion Crossing’ to Expo EM Autumn in Manchester this weekend. One of the tasks that Roy and Geoff wanted to cover before the show was the basic colouring of the back scene. Geoff will be known to many for his mastery of the plasticard medium and the back scene is no exception. Roy wanted me to take a look and see if there was any assistance I could offer based on my interest in the visual presentation of models, so prior to returning home to see the results of the latest equine/daughter/A&E mashup, myself and Roy had an hour or so working over the back scene.

Geoff has chosen plasticard for the back scene core material which is unusual, its about 30thou thickness and has a useful rigidity to it making it almost free standing but flexible enough for curved contours. The potential disadvantage was that it had a gloss finish to it. So the overall starting point was a backscene comprised of about seven 3ft x 18 inch sections, some of which were curved both concave and convex. Roy had started the ball rolling with the acquisition of a 40 gallon drum of Matt Dulux ‘First Dawn’, which is an excellent pale blue and a selection of paint rollers. The next task was how to apply it consistently across the length and height of the work area. The shiny gloss surface of the faces of the back scene were our first challenge. In anticipation of this I brought some fine wet and dry paper 2500 grade, and Halfords plastic acrylic primer in large spray cans. I’d got an idea from previous test pieces I’ve done and having seen Chris Nevard’s results on his  forest-of-dean-colliery layout ‘Fountain Colliery’. We worked on a test piece initially, the last thing we needed was to launch into it and end up having to correct a poor looking back drop. This had to complement Geoff’s modelling but recede so as not to overpower the foreground, and colour balance it too. The First Dawn colour chosen by Roy was an excellent starting point, the shade complementing the colour pallet Geoff had used on the layout, but it needed variation in it and toning so that it wasn’t a simple block colour.

Black Lion Crossing by Geoff Kent

The test piece Roy and I did is seen above, or rather the finished item is, we initially tested on the reverse of this piece. So the basic technique we derived was to cut the face of the plastic with the wet and dry paper. The fine grade of paper means the surface cuts are very very fine scratches and give a satin finish to the face of the plastic rather than the smooth gloss. I was conscious that if the Dulux was painted direct there would be a real risk of it flaking under any flexing so we needed a ‘key’ to start with. The surface can be worked really quickly and once I was happy with a good coverage of surface with the wet and dry I wiped it clean. The next task was to use the Halfords white and mist that across the whole of the surface facing the scenic part of the layout. Once dry, (accelerated with a hair dryer) I started with a very light covering of the First Dawn by roller. The roller I use is one of the cloth ‘mop’ type rollers rather than the regular shape foam roller. Starting at the top of each panel I worked in multiple directions, almost dry brushing it on to the plastic. The blue of a sky is deeper overhead, so this already starts giving a subtle grading reducing in colour density towards the horizon. Roy had already removed the adjoining panel from the layout and that was prepped in the same manner with the roller being run along the edge of the panel to minimise any white vertical lines that could occur at a join. The joint was worked on next with both panels aligned on a work bench. Starting at the top and crossing the join in multiple directions again gives a natural blended coverage around the join. With the roller you can’t guarantee you won’t get roller marks in the paint coverage and we did get some, but for me they are easier to manage with a roller than with a brush, particularly with theses fast drying paints applied in very thin coats. We were fortunate the technique worked pretty well from the start, and to cover any roller marks I used the Halfords white misted in varying density to give a milky blue sky effect. This was always done starting from the bottom and working upwards, the reverse of the blue application and for the same reason, the denser blue needing to be at the top of the back scene rather than horizon level. The join lines were also misted to give a diffused edge to them, to disguise any vertical join line, the white also acts as a matting agent reducing any potential glare from the surface. We managed to get the back scene ‘blued’ in a couple of hours, and it does work giving a nice subdued sky behind the layout, and throwing a small amount of blue light back into the layout scene under the lighting rather than the harsher white of plain plastic. Geoff’s layout is undoubtedly going to be one of the ‘must see’ layouts of the next few years, and this weekend its at its first showing, if you’re in the Manchester area this weekend, go and see it at ExpoEM Autumn www.emgs.org it’ll be worth the trip!

Having spent a bit of time helping Roy my thoughts turned to Shelfie 2 and its presentation. One element is that there’ll be plenty of trees, and to get a feel for the forested look I started to work the ground contours and tree lines using Woodland Scenics tree armatures.

The armatures are easy to work and give a very quick fix for seeing the potential of the forested areas. They also give a very stark winter appearance, which is really appealing. I may take a step past Autumn which was my original idea and into winter, the feedback I’ve had from a number of friends has been encouraging to give it a try, and the work of modellers like Mike Confalone model-railroad-hobbyist  really push the buttons for inspiration, as does the starkness of OTCM’s industrial leanings otcmstoating-bank

Well that’s enough from me. I need to look at some wood, instead of A&E head injury reports ….

Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, Cameo, Cameo layout, canada, Chris Nevard, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, EM, Exhibition, finescale, Forest of Dean, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, Industrial, Inspiration, Layout, life, Manchester, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Rapido Trains, Scottish Region, shelfie, social media, Southern, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, trainset, Uncategorized, Wales, Welsh Marches, Western Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wordless Wednesday Trees

Posted in 2017, blog, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, EM, finescale, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, Industrial, Kalmbach, Layout, LMS, LNER, magazine, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Railex, Rapido Trains, Scottish Region, shelfie, social media, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Western Region, wordless wednesday | Leave a comment

Removals….

A while back I reviewed the DJM J94, and came to the conclusion for me that it was a bit ‘meh’, I know, I know, that sayings ‘so last year’ now! The review is here djm-j94 Since then the model has been sitting on the shelf of doom, but working on a small industrial project I thought it may be time to look at it again. Common with the DJM/Hattons 14XX the J94 has a fully geared chassis, so the coupling rods are only cosmetic. Both types have the unfortunate characteristic of ‘cogging’ under load on a descending gradient. This is the J94 (this one) on a 3% gradient youtubeJ94

This appears to be a common issue, I’ve run seven of these J94’s with the same result. I’ve largely resolved it on my 14XX with some open chassis surgery removing part of the drive train, and replacing the coupling rods 14xx-frustration.


Well I’ve decided to try a similar solution with the J94. Initially I removed the coupling rods to no improvement. Next was to get into the chassis, and like the 14XX before it, the task was squarely in the PITA category. If the end game works I’ll write it up! The heading picture shows the model and four gears, those have been removed from the gear train, so it is a simple worm to tower geared drive system.

So the results so far. Under load downhill with no rods, almost imperceptible cogging, there is still some, and that will be due to the mesh of the worm to the top gear.

Uphill with no rods the loco slips, in the original review the lack of weight was noteworthy for me.

Replacing the rods (with originals) the loco again cogs downhill, they’re rigid rods, and climbs with no problem under load. On the flat there’s no difference to when the model was fully geared. Wheels in all cases are self quartering due to square stub ended axles.

Next job is to replace the rods with prototypical knuckle jointed rods and see if that nips the cogging problem in the bid. I hope it does, overall (apart from the mechanism), the models a reasonable starting point for a detailing and weathering project. If you have a flat earth society layout, I suppose it still is…

Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, brassmasters, British Rail, dapol, DCC, djm, Eastern Region, Exhibition, finescale, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, n gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, OOJ94-001, OOJ94-002, OOJ94-003, Oxford rail, review, Scottish Region, social media, Southern Electrics, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, Western Region | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday

Albion Yard

Here’s a blast from the past, seven years ago roughly. The link to today? well both locomotive and wagons are in use on test on the new layout, and Albion Yard?, well that’s in storage, not sure what to do with it at the moment, and I’ve been robbing one or two bits from it to try on the new project.

I know I’ve said it before, perhaps it is ‘Goodnight Vienna’ this time …

Posted in 2017, Airfix, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, finescale, flying scotsman, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, iain rice, Ian Futers, Layout, life, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Railex, Rapido Trains, shelfie, social media, throwback thursday, toy fair, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Western Region | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday , ballasting…

Remember the good times? Spending hours brushing ballast into the sleepers, getting the point work clean, repainting, filling the gaps afterwards?


No, me neither! However it is one of those chores that for me is included in the ‘Meh!’ files along with wiring. Today I’ve finished all the track work, it’s all had a good shakedown testing so on with the ballast. I’m using Woodland Scenics and it’s now in place for the fixing.


Normally I use diluted PVA or superglue, but this time I’ve tried a different technique, clear varnish acrylic with the surface tension reduced with detergent. It worked ok and I did a traditional PVA/detergent mix test simultaneously.


Working outside on a warm summer day the PVA cured faster, so I reverted to that method for the ballast across the layout. Peco bufferstops are at the track ends, but will be replaced with GWR or LMS/BR types from Dave Franks,  lanarkshiremodels.com these have already been assembled and will go on once the core scenery structure is in place.


These are some of Daves bufferstops, LNER bottom left, and centre/top BR/LMS. And for you retro health geeks out there, yes they are sitting on a ‘Reebok Step’, (no Jane Fonda’s or Olivia Neutron Bombs were hurt or disturbed taking this image).

I’ve found a good way using the new Peco Bullhead rail track of assembling these kits too. For now though I’m running the layout, as well as brushing the track regularly with a two inch household paintbrush. I do this for a week or so to allow the track and glue etc to bed in, and to dislodge any sections or pieces of loose ballast.


Whilst I’m doing this I’m also working up the scenery structure. This time I’ll be using insulation foam as the underpinnings, and that’s partly because it’ll give greater flexibility and opportunities in placing the trees, of which I’m expecting to build quite a few!

Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, finescale, Forest of Dean, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, iain rice, Ian Futers, Kalmbach, Layout, life, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Rapido Trains, Scottish Region, shelfie, Southern Region, throwback thursday, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, wagon, Wales, Welsh Marches, Western Region | 4 Comments