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!
May 2, 2018
One of the tighter decoder installations done here recently is squeezing a decoder in the OO gauge Bachmann ‘Wickham’ Trolley…under the floor.
An ESU LokPilot Nano ‘Standard’ was used. Now, when installing a decoder, note that the model has a coreless motor which does not work very well with BEMF. CV49 was set to zero to switch BEMF off resulting in some fine running once all the pick-up wipers had been adjusted.
December 31, 2017
It’s becoming a little too serious at the moment – I have to be careful not to become too involved! However, I really want to get this micro-layout finished and soon! Scenery in the form of shrubs, bushes and weeds has been added with a touch of Autumn colour. ‘Loch Dhu No.2’ has also received its nameplates together with a spot of touching up. Time to do some weathering of the stock ans the pug too.
I think the Autumn colours, representing early Autumn when leaves just begin to turn on small trees and bushes after the first frost in the glens. There’s more to do to this scene including some long dry grasses in places, a touch of yellow to the autumn colour and more matting down to kill the shine in the scenery material. Acrylic glues, which are perfect for scenery application, also tend to hold a dull shine which looks unrealistic. More soon!
December 30, 2017
After adding some debris in the distillery yard such as cask staves and rusty loops, matting down of all the surfaces was needed to remove the dull shine from acrylic paints before scenery could be completed. For that, I use Testors ‘Dullcote’ which removes 95% of the sheen. Some more stubborn areas need a little help with Tamiya matt varnish. After several very thin applications, the rails are carefully cleaned of varnish.
The same is dome to the hard pavements in the distillery itself, with the buildings removed. Once dry, the two low relief buildings such as the one at the end of the layout may be semi-permanently fitted in place with glue and the gap between the base of the building and pavement concealed with scenery material. Further weed planting and placing the pile of casks I have previously prepared will finish the scene.
Loch Dhu Distillery is nearing some state of completion apart from small details which may be added over time. Work on the rolling stock, to fit smaller ‘Spratt & Winkle’ couplings (TT gauge ones) and weathering will be completed over the next few months. I can finalise a couple of simple modifications to the exchange siding side of the layout at the same time (prompted by the acquisition of a rail bus) and that will be it for a while whilst I turn my attention back to my EM gauge Folkestone East layout.
Folkestone East is undergoing a little bit of a revolution where I am ridding myself of all EWS, EW&S and GBRf equipment and related stock to concentrate on the mid 1990s period where there was a significant transition period involving sectors, TOCs and of course the overlap between the opening of the Channel Tunnel and closure of the Dover train ferry service. This will provide a tighter focus on what stock I buy and build for the layout. 2018 will be a year of tighter focus for my modelling!
December 24, 2017
…and a little Dullcote will be needed to kill the slight shine from acrylic paints…
Small details are being added to the Loch Dhu Distillery buildings. They include a representation of yard lighting, wall braces and window bars for security. It is a distillery after all!
The revenue man’s office now has windows, doors and security bars. One door is ajar – a figure representing the head revenue man himself, the very model of taxation bureaucracy, surveying all that goes on around him, will be added looking out of the door. Will Angus MacGallbladder get his way and apply duty on the angel’s share?
There’s just room between the 12t vans and the building to get the doors open for unloading sacks of barley for the maltings. As the buildings are completed, the low relief ones will be fixed in place and the bases finished to blend them with the ground.
The yard will soon be filled with stored empty casks…
Progress has been made on the engine shed, a part relief building which just fits the distillery scene. Remember, the scene is barely 14 inches wide!
The buildings need a little more detail painting and some touch-up here and there before being sprayed with Dullcote together with the yard surface. Otherwise, they have come a treat after a long period of construction and painting. Loch Dhu Distillery, despite some ‘evolutionary’ changes to improve some of earlier work, is nearing completion. The exchange siding side of the layout is being revised slightly and the recent acquisition of a suitable railbus has encouraged the building of a small fiddle stick to complete the main line run – all 40 inches of it. A big layout indeed!
November 19, 2017
I did say that I wished to make some significant progress on Loch Dhu Distillery – the aim is to complete the layout to exhibition standard by the end of the year (2017). I have other projects to progress and the reality is that Loch Dhu is really becoming a bit of a log jam in the studio. So, the Lifecolour paints came out to create stone colours and to weather the yard pavement and the buildings prior to fitting windows and other details.
It’s a fun little layout with some nooks and crannies in the track plan to make the scenes appear larger than they really are. The colour blending work with rust colours, grime, dirty black and various other shades from the Lifecolour range has been interesting to do. The Lifecolour paints are durable and quite subtle when thinned around 4:1 with thinner and applied with an airbrush.
The over bridge located in the distillery yard was built up of individual stone blocks cut from South Eastern Finecast embossed random stone sheet and laid in courses varying slightly in width. Some blocks were smoothed over with a little Squadron Putty before being rubbed down and painted. The iron oxide staining of some of the stone is from the Lifecolour ‘Rust and Dust’ set which is a very useful set of layout finishing colours. It looks far better than the Wills material used in the exchange siding scene.
The stone work in the exchange siding scene was built up from Wills materials which at the time looked fine. Having experimented with making my own dressed stone courses in the yard over bridge, I am considering reworking the walls in this part of the layout – but not for some time. There’s too much detailing and scenery to complete including wagon weathering (those Bachmann 12t/13t opens in the front of this view are far too clean!) and detailing the distillery yard. This little layout has certainly taken on a life of its own!