Heljan Class 07 visits…

December 6, 2018

Taking a turn at Loch Dhu Siding – a Heljan ‘OO’ gauge Class 07. A little testing and running in before renumbering and some detail changes to match a currently operational Class 07 shunter.

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More Loch Dhu Distillery chaos…

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!


A little reworking.

October 14, 2018


A little reworking of areas of a layout is not a bad idea to correct features that do not look quite right. Photography helps to identify these spots on what might be considered to be a completed layout. My OO gauge Loch Dhu Distillery micro-layout has a few visual weaknesses identified through the study of digital images. One of them was the over-bridge which carries a lane over the mainline by the exchange siding. It seemed to have span that looked a tad too narrow and one of the support columns was not quite vertical or as well made as the other. As the picture above shows, a little reworking was undertaken to remake the bridge, using as much of the original stonework sections as possible.

The opportunity was taken to make some detail changes to the bridge structure too. The guard railings were lengthened to suit the wide span and now comes the challenge of painting in the stone work to match the unmodified structures.

Having to rework parts of a layout is not a sign of failure but can become a necessity through the emergence of new information, an improved product or idea and of course, as one’s modelling skills develop. Overall, the 10 hours put into this rework has been well worthwhile!


Matting down…

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!

 


Detailing takes time…

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!

 


In the hour before dawn…Kingussie.

November 26, 2017

The station is not a quiet as you might think – local passengers are waiting for the north bound Caledonian Sleeper to use it as a convenient early morning service for Inverness.

Class 67s are back on the Sleepers and have been for a while on the Highland line. With all respect to the plucky Class 73s, they were never built for this sort of railway.

No. 67 012 – one of the locos allocated to Wrexham & Shropshire services and latterly Chiltern Railways. Now lost its nameplates.

New stock for the sleepers is due soon…

If you wish to photograph the last remaining Mark 2 air-con stock on sleeper services, you don’t have much time left.

LED lighting has improved low light photography on many Scottish stations – so much better balanced.

Dawn at last…the signal box at Kingussie. Like mark 2 and 3 stock on the sleepers, you do not have much time to photograph this sort of infrastructure on the Highland line.

Images taken of the north bound 1S25 Euston-Inverness Caledonian Sleeper service on the morning of Saturday 25th November 2017. In the snow!

 


Distillery progress

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!