Melting machine…

February 23, 2012

A stranger than usual departmental working turned up in Nairn last saturday (18th February) as the 6Z31 with two DRS Class 37s in charge (37 688 and 37 667).

It turned out to be Network Rail’s newest vehicle (YXA No. 99 70 9594 014-1) for tackling snow and ice; the vehicle was being sent to Inverness for the rest of the winter. Despite this investment by NR, temperatures in the Scottish Highlands persist on the mild side at around 10-12 degrees centigrade. No sign of snow at the present!

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I am no artist…

February 17, 2012

…and that back scene on Folkestone East was something of a challenge (scary nightmare). My first attempt at it was made last November…


I lived with it for around two months until, two days after Christmas, I decided I hated it! The hillside colours, even for a hazy south coast day, did not work at all. From the pencil line on the paint, I was clearly still tinkering with it when the photograph of the Class 47/3 above was taken.

Attempt number two and I think the colours are better. One of the key things is shading the landscape colours down so they are very pale and subtle. This can be done either by adding white or by applying a white wash over the finished scene. The colours are still a little too vibrant in the distance. However, the chalk hills over the real Folkestone East really do crowd the location. That said, the back scene cannot be too dominant on a layout.

Whilst an artist or one of those really talented modellers I regularly meet on the circuit would probably do a much better job, the result from last Christmas looks much better. I sort of like it…sort of…

The darker green representing foreground trees was matched to the ones at the far end of the layout. Those on the hillsides do contrast sharply with the chalk downland grasses in real life. I need to create some subtle shadow around them and do a better job of defining the slopes.

When viewing the work so far, bear in mind several points. The track is a mere 3 inches from the back drop. Also, there will be trees and bushes planted on the embankment behind the track which will partially conceal the painted industrial buildings. Finally, the layout development is being undertaken from the back towards the front, so until that back scene is complete and the scenery planted, no work will be undertaken on the foreground area.

I go through phases of doing a little work, sitting back to check the results, deciding I hate it and redoing it! Eventually, I have to settle on something or be forever reworking scenes! Discovering (for myself because I am sure it’s not an original idea by any means) a dry brushing method of colouring ballast without flooding it with paint means I will be not using darker grains when placing ballast from now on.

As an aside, the 4-Cep model is No.1699, one of the SWT ‘Greyhound’ ones transferred to Ramsgate in the last months of Cep operation on the South Eastern. The model has the orange line painted out, just like the prototype. The conductor rail remains to be installed. I really must get to it!


GBRf 66 720 – the real one…

February 14, 2012

A brief stop on the line side at Milford Junction when on the way to Doncaster this weekend past produced GBRf No. 66 720 with its bright vinyls as modelled by Dapol on one of its latest Class 66 models. The speed of the train prevented me from taking a shot of the opposite side…


Footbridge – progress on Dudley Heath

February 1, 2012

Amazing how much time it takes to build one of these from styrene card! One advantage of N gauge is being able to use up all those small off-cuts of strip material which are too short for use in 4mm scale much of the time! The footbridge is inspired by (but not identical to) the one at Bescot Stadium. It’s taller than usual to allow for electrification, hence the Dapol Class 86 being used for height testing – with the pantograph raised.

Progress is being made, albeit slowly. Whilst the layout will not be ‘finished’ in time for Doncaster, it will have structures and scenery on it. Furthermore, it is fully operational! This begs the question: When is a layout ever finished? One thing I plan to avoid is cluttering it with too much detail!