A Southern Flavour…

May 28, 2009

Anyone who knows me (many I have never met in my life claim they do!) will know that my UK-outline interests are distinctly Southern in flavour. Eastleigh 100 was not to be missed, even though the event of last weekend was over 600 miles away from my Highlands home.

It became a grand tour, starting at Grangemouth, taking in Carlisle, Oxford (side trip to Howes Models) Didcot and finally Lymington on the way down, a journey taken over two days. The Eastleigh event itself was followed by a general photting trip which ended up at Tonbridge at dusk on Sunday evening. Home again the next day.

Both my travelling companion and I met many really good people; the visitors to the works open day were generally courteous and tried hard not to spoil others’ shots;  station staff on the whole were friendly and understanding and the night photography was an experience new to me.

Here’s a handful of pictures taken during that very enjoyable and sunny weekend.

Grangemouth:
Not so Southern to start…however this intermodal had no traditional boxes on board, only tanks of various kinds.

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The Lymington Branch with its 3-Cig units.
Word is that units No.s 1497 and 1498 will be withdrawn from the line later in 2009. Here’s 1498 in Southern green – and a Wight ferry.
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Eastleigh Works 100:
A fantastic event given that Eastleigh was a closed-and-to-be-demolished works in 2007. Now it’s an operational railway workshop once again.

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Faversham and Tonbridge Yard at dusk:

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IMG_7328All the best for now.


Dapol’s finest in N.

May 12, 2009

New-Out999_997There’s some great looking N gauge models coming from Dapol at the moment and I could not resist offering a sneak look at the Class 156 and Mk.3 coaches, all of which will be hitting the shops pretty soon; if they have not already done so.  The models featured here will be examined and written up for BRM. But in the meantime, the technical specs are really good, with pick-ups in the coaches for lighting bars, 6-pin DCC interface sockets, wheel sets so close to NMRA standards that virtually all the stock ran through my Atlas code 55 track without a hitch. The pick-ups are through the pinpoint axles on the DVT, Mk.3s and the Class 156. Oh, yes, and etched brake discs too…

The Class 156 features close coupling options, working lights, a motor and drive fitted to the underfloor area so you can see into the passenger compartment and a lovely finish. Anyway, here’s the pics…
CRW_6824_JFRCRW_6826_JFRCRW_6831_JFRCRW_6829_JFRCRW_6832_JFRCRW_6834_JFRIt’s enough to make me seriously consider switching to British outline N gauge…I am preparing a book: “Making a Start in N gauge” for The Crowood Press and so I have to get to grips with this growing and hugely improving scale as far as British outline is concerned. As for the US stuff, I am well down the line with that, although the MRL project awaits a couple of big trestle kits to be delivered so progress on the mainline can resume.

In the meantime, there’s been a couple of scratch build projects OMWB recently, including this KEA (inner) in 4mm scale. The end platform handrails are a compromise; I used an A1 Models product intended for the Hornby PGA; anything for an easy life. Scratchbuilding always has some compromise and pragmatism for the sake of getting the model completed in a reasonable time span and for sanity’s sake!CRW_6843_JFR


Static grass experiments – a false start.

May 2, 2009

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Experiments with static grass fibres have continued now a batch of Silflor MiniNatur early and late fall/winter colours has arrived. I am impressed with the Grassmaster-2; it works brilliantly with all of the static grasses I have tried so far. It takes some getting used to, and my first grass applications with Woodland Scenics light green were not totally satisfactory. The process has become more of an issue of choosing the right colours than anything else. I have gone back over the area I worked on initially (shown in an earlier post below) and added a second layer of grass using a 4:1 mix of Silflor Late Fall (winter) and Early Fall fibres to try and obtain the dead grass with some wisps of green for highlighting the texture I am looking for.

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I would be reasonably pleased with the result had I been looking for a late summer effect. However, I am not wanting a late summer and Autumn effect. My choice of colours was not that good for a late winter effect. To be honest, not good at all, although the 2mm Silflor Late Fall will suit the MRL layout quite well. I also wondered if the second application has not overdone the job – that grass looks long and has covered other grass detail added earlier.

crw_6558_jfr1The thing to work through is the process by experimentation with colour mixes and layers. It’s difficult to gauge the different grass colours from photos on online stores, I have bought several different packs to play with. I thought about the process too: Apply the static grass first before adding other fibres or add some ground foam and individual clumps of grass before doing the static bit? I think the first is better because static grass just covers everything, loosing the change in textures gained by adding small individual clumps of grass. What do you think?

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Another application I tried with the fibres is to add them to slopes with tweezers so they fall flat as much dead grass in winter is wont to do before a slight drift of static applied grass is added to create some standing grass. The picture above shows this before the addition a wisp of static grass – note that the glue is still wet when the picture was taken. This has resulted in an interesting effect so far. Once the inevitable brambles are added to the slope, the steepness of it, caused by the tight confines of this compact layout, will be mitigated. However, the colours are not quite right for my preferred season.

It’s a steep learning curve and static grass is worth experimenting with. I have still things to work through for DHY for winter grass including how to make upstanding clumps of dead grass look less uniform. Placing them and then trimming the tops with scissors at an angle is a possibility. All this experimentation and buying pounds and pounds of different colours of grass may seem wasteful and time consuming. No so, I feel; there’s that big MRL N scale scheme to work on and I want my grass techniques just so before starting wholesale scenery on that!

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Lessons learned so far: Don’t over do it, protect the surrounding track and scenery from the fibres and experiment with different colours. Don’t rely on photos of the grass to gauge the colour other than as a rough guide!

To that end, I have ordered a batch of Woodland Scenics ‘Wild Honey’ and will look at mixing some with Silflor Late Fall. Then follow up by introducing longer fibres to represent taller dead weeds using the Anita Decor long fibres shown above (which are non-static) placed through the static grass together with some areas of flattened grass as seen on the picture of the embankment above. In the meantime, the grass seen in the picture above will be cleared and repairs made to my dirt road before having another go!