October 31, 2018
Reworking of some areas of my pint-sized Loch Dhu Distillery layout continues. Much of my modelling is experimentation with paints and materials and the results don’t always work for me requiring a little adjustment. I don’t have a list of standard techniques I use for every layout – that would be repetitive and boring. The flip side of that coin is that the need to rework can result from experimentation and this sometimes brings refinement to technique and a better understanding of materials. Despite the chaotic scenes in the distillery yard, only a little change is under way. A little reworking of areas that don’t satisfy does no harm and adds to the knowledge base of techniques and ideas.
I have commented before on how much detail can fit into a few square feet of baseboard. Care is needed not to overcrowd the scene with too much detail though. It has to be relevant – not one of everything out of a catalogue and not too busy.
Despite the apparent mess, this hour or so of work on the paving came together quite well. Once finished, the buildings are plopped back into place (they are removable for repairs and improvements) and the placing of whiskey casks can start. The engine shed remains to be finished – it’s not likely to be big enough for my growing collection of critters though!
July 25, 2018
A new waterslide transfer sheet for Nairnshire Modelling Supplies has been in development recently: sheet NMS-6 which is an O gauge (7mm scale) version of the OO gauge NMS-1 (BR blue diesels plus engineers ‘Dutch’ livery). It is intended as a renumbering pack for ready to run O gauge diesels, but has enough elements on it for those repainting their models too. To keep the price down to offer a fair deal to modellers, not everything is included and the loco data panels are simplified. If this new sheet is a success, sheet NMS-7 will be developed quickly which will be an O gauge version of the NMS-5 Scottish Region BR blue version complete with depot emblems. It looks as if sheet NMS-7 and the planned NMS-8 (large logo) will be on sheets larger than the one above to accommodate all of the required livery elements. This allow some smaller OO gauge and new N gauge part-sheets to be completed too. The range is about to expand!
The picture above is a snapshot of the latest proof which has been checked carefully for dimensions and colour. Note the small black numerals for loco end numbers if using the sheet for engineers ‘Dutch’ livery. Some of the number typefaces are different for up-to-date end numbering too. The correct method is to replace all of the printed loco number on a model, not just the numerals which need to be changed, because every manufacturer prints livery elements in a slightly different manner. Sometimes, factory applied printing can be slightly over-size or slightly too heavy. To match manufacturers lettering is impossible to do with one universal transfer sheet – it can change slightly from model to model. In all, this is a comprehensive sheet crammed with as much as we can get in in the space and at a reasonable price too! It has been approved for printing at this time.
Also, in conjunction with this project, I am developing some etched products too, primarily scenery items. It’s been a sharp learning curve to get to grips with a drawing programme in the meantime – the principles are entirely different from working in PhotoShop! I completed my first etched sheet recently which was for simple phosphor-bronze pick-up strip which allowed me to test the etching concept and gain a very useful modelling product from the work at the same time. It did work, much to my surprise, resulting in a nicely sharp etch. More on new etching developments soon.
June 14, 2018
It’s been a while since I last took a look at my N gauge ‘Dudley Heath’ layout which has been in storage since its last exhibition. The layout is inspired by the Grand Junction Railway route (circa 1998-2004) through the Black Country and primarily hosts suburban trains associated with that area operated by Class 150s, Class 310s and eventually a Class 322 (when I get round to building one). Freight is predominantly steel, intermodal and china clay together with some general freight traffic. I plan to start expanding the freight stock roster once again – there’s some interesting stuff on the horizon.
Today, I dug the layout out from under the main layout at home and set it up for a bit of a look. The layout has not been worked on in that time and the only project undertaken at the work bench has been an N gauge Class 310/1 based on Electra Railway Graphics vinyl overlays. My photo session today shows the layout in the condition it arrived home from its last show 18 months’ ago!
The newly completed Class 310/1 set is less than satisfactory due to the 3D printed cab mouldings which are pretty rough and do not match the profile of the roofs of the Graham Farish Mark 2 stock used in the conversion. There were no alternatives to the mouldings which at least allowed the project to be completed. The model will have a little more adjustment before it next goes out with the layout to a show. The trailers need raising by about half a millimetre or so.
Class 150s in various forms make up the local passenger services together with the Class 310/1. No. 150123 runs past a short engineers train.
One of the Class 150s on the layout is a 3-car Class 150/0 as No. 150001 finished in Centro livery. The model represents one of the two prototype units which worked Centro routes in the West Midland and Black Country for many years. Class 150s no longer work in large numbers in the area and are missed by many enthusiasts.
Freight traffic with a Dapol Class 58 on the front and Class 150/1 No. 150123 on the main line in the background.
A project to be finished off is the second of the prototype Class 150s in the form of Class 150/0 No. 150002 which has the roof details left over from its days as an evaluation unit (Class 154) for Class 158 development. It sits on the layout above in an undercoat of Regional Railways silver grey – it will be finished in Centro livery in die course. I am unhappy with the finish of the centre car which is built up as a cut and shut with parts from two cars. It will be reworked for a better fit of the details. Parts for two more Class 150s are to hand – three cars for a hybrid Class 150/ with Class 150/2 centre car together with the Class 950 Ultrasonic Test unit. All good fun!
In the meantime, the layout will be checked over for damage and OHLE masts and portals examined and adjusted – they are quite delicate and prone to slight damage during the course of a show. I am also evaluating some new scenery materials and new acrylic paints which I plan to use to rework most of the scenery to represent late summer or early Autumn rather than the stark greens of early summer. Work to develop the layout will start again in the Autumn, even though the layout has no exhibition bookings at this time. Some scenic features remain to be finished and others need tidying up – photographs always reveal where those things are and processing today’s images has already pointed a few things out!
November 12, 2017
Layout work has been in hibernation during the summer and Autumn of this year – a little burn-out perhaps? Or plenty of outdoor stuff to do. Whatever the reason, I have been busy (distracted) with other stuff until recently when I restarted work in a determined effort to complete Loch Dhu Distillery; both the siding scene and the distillery yard itself. Last year, the yard looked something like this:
Progress on buildings over the course of last winter saw this:
Recent activity in the distillery yard scene has seen this emerge – the usual and fun layout building activity – organised, tidy and very well defined and planned activity:
The engine shed together with a low relief building representing a second kiln house have appeared among the pieces of styrene off-cuts – the model is based on the one at Dailuaine Distillery which still exists today.
The front of the yard scene is tidied up with a retaining wall and culvert. The kiln house pagoda top was reworked too.
Buildings are currently being painted and detailed with more doors, windows, ventilators, chimney pots and other fittings. Missing details are added such as rain water goods. The yard surface is concrete with wooden boarding together with cobbles in places. That had to be painted and finished at the time this picture was taken. So, even though the layout is considered to be a micro or diorama layout which would comfortably travel on the back seat of my classic Mini Cooper, there is a huge amount of work to do to finish it – the level of detail required to create the scene is quite surprising!
September 24, 2017
…and minutes to assemble!
From time to time, I get the chance to look at some very useful quality products such as the track cleaning car by Ten Commandment Models/KPF Zeller. Recently, another excellent product has appeared in the studio for evaluation. I have recently had the opportunity to give the new laser-cut diorama baseboard units manufactured by Scale Model Scenery a try. Two outer (end) and one centre unit board has been built for review and I am most impressed by their potential. The outer units build up with back and side boards and may be either a left-hand or right-hand end unit. The centre one has additional fixings and a back board. Three together makes a baseboard with 121cm length measured on the inside faces of both the left- and right-hand side boards – ideal for a compact or micro-layout in N or OO/HO gauge. Add another centre unit and an O gauge diorama or micro-layout is possible. Fixings to secure the boards together are supplied in each kit.
Assembly is quick and easy – can be done on a table top with minimal tools and a spot of fast-setting wood glue. Within an hour, you could be laying track (and track bed) and planning wiring, structures and scenic detailing!
The ‘dove-tail’ construction method is strong and although I would suggest glue is used to permanently secure the boards and plinths together, the parts having a good interference fit. A slight tap with my hand was needed to seat some of the sections together. The plinths are deep enough for solenoid point motors such as Seep motors or servos. The thickness of the high grade MDF from which the boards are made is sufficiently strong to support a small layout theme because the unsupported length of the boards is small.
There is no reason why a small layout built on these boards could not be exhibited from time to time. The real benefit is being able to dismantle the layout into sections for storage or having the option to secure the boards together as a single length of layout as seen in the accompanying pictures. For those not keen on joinery, or without the space to work with timber and all the mess that goes with cutting and shaping it, these boards offer a lot of potential. I can see military diorama modellers taking an interest is these units too. They will save a great deal of time!
Features are two BB001 large diorama baseboards, one built as a left-hand and one and a right-hand unit using the alternative front plinths supplied in the kits. A BB002 middle unit was used for the middle board. Produced by Scale Model Scenery: http://www.scalemodelscenery.co.uk.