Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Getting the engine facilities tidy

I have spent the last week working on the goods yard and engine shed. The whole area is now covered in cinders and the facilities are now in place, as you can see.

Here is a close up of the Water crane, the coaling station and the coal staithes.

Someday, I am going to have to put a nice facia board along the front there.

As you can see, the retaining wall is all in place. To remind you, this was all scratch built from some foam board, plastic embossed card, a lot of glue and time. My next job is to extend the retaining wall with a wooden fence. This will come further along and then turn right and come across to the main track to provide an entrance to the yard. Lots of use for the stirring sticks that i get from Isaac's down on the Waterfront!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The ballast is down and buildings are going up

I have laid all of the ballast - I used a fairly light coloured ballast  using the following process which worked very well for me.

Firstly, I ran some wood glue along the cork roadbed that extended about 6-7mm out from the sleepers. Then, I dropped a small amount of ballast onto the glue and let it dry hard. This gave me a fixed edge to my trackbed. When that was set, I carefully dropped small amounts of ballast outside of the rails and along the inside, making sure that I didn't drop too much and rubbing my finger along the sleepers to get all of the ballast down between them. A quick spray with water that has a small amount of washing up liquid in it, to break the surface tension, and then I used a dropper to drop a 50% water/50% Titebond glue (you can use normal PVA but I have lots of this American woodworking glue around) that I had dyed dark with an amount of Vallejo black polyurethane primer. This gives a nice mottled effect of dirt and grime building up over the years.

I am still left with a little clearing up of the stray bits but it looks good to me.

The next task was to get some coal staithes and an engine shed onto the layout.

The coal staithes were made out of Starbucks type wooded stirrers that I had picked up from somewhere. I have a NWSL Chopper II which made short work of cutting the bits to width and length. (You do have to keep your fingers away from the razor blade though:-). Once glued up, they were sanded down to get all the excess glue off the surface, otherwise the stain wouldn't have taken properly. These things are made from old railway sleepers so that set the size of each component. I firstly stained them with some matt black primer and then dry brushed some dark brown on the top.

I have some coal to go in these. When set up with a couple of workers, some sacks and a barrow, it should look great.

My next task was to make the Knightwing Engine Shed. I didn't realise that this was a click together kit and only comprised 7 parts. I was all set for a couple of evening putting this together but within 10 minutes it was done. The interesting bit was the painting. Firstly, I airbrushed the brickwork with some Lifecolor terracotta paint from their British Western Desert paint set. I then masked all the concrete off and hand painted that with some Vallejo Buff, ensuring that some of the background came through to make it look like dirty concrete. I hand painted the window frames with the same buff paint. Lastly, I used some Vallejo Acrylic White Filler and spread this all over the brickwork. Some very hard rubbing and lots of wet cloth wiping resulted in just the mortar lines being highlighted. I airbrushed the roof with Vallejo Model Air  Dark Sea Grey, added some airbrushed light green to look like moss on the slates and then went over the whole thing with Lifecolor Tesocrom Smoke to get the effect of all the coal smoke from the steam engines around. I was planning to take this to IPMS Clacton on Thursday night as it is a plastic kit but I realised that I would have to complete all four walls. As one side and the back will be against the wall and no-one will see them, I cheated and left those two unfinished! Naughty but time saving.

Lastly, I have set the Metcalfe Small Station in place on its platform base. I gave the whole of this a good going over with Tensocrom Smoke so it doesn't look all clean and pristine.

None of the buildings have been set into the groundwork yet.

My next step is to complete the base of the goods yard by covering it with crushed cinders.

I am having second thoughts about automating all of the points because I am finding that, even having set up macros for all the combinations, it is still more fiddly than moving the points by hand. I also make fewer mistakes. Using DCC, if you make the wrong point adjustment and then start the engine, you don't really have time to reset a point correctly so you have to stop the loco. As I do this all the time, I find that being able to correct the problem using the "big pointy thing from the sky" is a better solutions. It seems that I might have 9 point motors and 5 Digitrax Accessory Decoders to dispose off :-(. Normally, I am a big fan of DCC but not for everything on a small layout.

That's about all for now. Next time, I will be discussing Kadee couplers and plans for an extension to the railway giving me a whole new station!