The last few weeks have been all about the buildings at the ‘country’ end of the layout. The general scenario is that trains appear/disappear through a hole in the sky that is masked by a combination of a garage, tree and large, Georgian house. Immediately after is a level crossing, with signal box and cottage. Behind the signal box is an end terraced house and then come a couple of low relief buildings before the goods yard is reached. At the planning stage, it was envisaged that all these buildings would somehow blend into a backscene, showing elements of the rest of the town.
The signal box is both the smallest yet most complex building on the layout. It is based on a standard Saxby and Farmer design, which I adapted from the Alphagraphix kit, using the latter as a drawing. Unlike most of my other buildings it is almost completely made from plasticard. The base uses Wills random stone sheet, which is thick enough to not require any bracing. Though nominally intended for 4mm scale, the stone pattern seems to also work well in 7mm scale, for which the same can also be said of their corrugated asbestos sheets, which are very good for the generic corrugated iron you see as roof covering on many Irish buildings.
Inside the random stone is an inner layer of 40 thou glazing, though this only goes to roof height for the fixed middle windows. The outer windows are made from separate sheets of glazing and sit in U shaped slots so can be slid open like the prototype. Glazing bars are made from 20 thou square microstrip, with 40 x 20 layers for the outer frames. The glazing material is something called ‘Cobex’ [or similar] which is a harder plastic that does not go cloudy when touched by solvent. The lever frame is a whitemetal kit from Skytrex. 16 levers in all, while you also get a level crossing wheel and block instruments as well. Pay a bit more and the similar Springside kit gives you a desk, clock, signalman etc, though my furniture was easily made from bits of plastic and wood.
The roof has a considerable overhang, with guttering hanging from this. I used half round Evergreen strip for the gutters, fixed to small brackets made from other microstrip and welded to a false plasticard roof. This has an inner layer which sits snugly inside the walls of the cabin. The rest of the roof is ordinary card, fixed to the false roof with UHU. Slates are strips of cartridge paper a scale 18” deep, cut at 12” intervals and fixed with PVA. The finial is a piece of plastic rod turned in my drill.
Steps are always difficult to get right, but making a jig helps, as did deciding the ‘slope’ would be 45 degrees, regardless of what the prototype suggested. Paintwork is mainly green, using Humbrol xx. The stone walls were done by stippling various greys onto the surface & not worrying about mortar lines. The indigenous limestone of the area seems to have many shades [probably not 50 though] of grey, often within the same piece, so there seemed little point in painting them individually. Inside, the levers are painted in what I hope are the right colours and in order of where they are sited. First up is the outer distant, then the home, then the lever to lock the crossing gates, after which comes the starter signal then points [and locking bars] in the yard. Spare levers are white, points black, locking bars blue, home/starter sigs are red, distants yellow and crossing gates brown.
While I’m here, a word about the wider concept of the trackplan is appropriate. As I do not have enough room to model the coal mining aspect, this is deemed to be ‘off-stage’. The sidings are set as being a trailing connection for trains approaching the terminus, about half a mile distant. Points are unlocked by a key and empty wagons are then reversed into the mine sidings. Loaded wagons have to be pulled into the terminus for the engine to ‘run round’ as there is no loops at the mine itself. This means I only need a train of loaded wagons and avoids the problems of how to load/unload in view of the public.
The other buildings [apart from the garage, which is just an empty shell] are coming along well, though all are yet to be bedded into the ground cover. The Georgian house and end terrace are built on a core of 5mm foamboard, while the signalman’s cottage uses more Wills sheet, this time the ‘whitewashed stone’ effect. The latter features a reasonable amount of interior detail, again made from scrap bits of wood and plastic. Ideas came from the BBC ‘Heirhunters’ TV programme which featured a typical Irish cottage left untouched since the early 1960s and yes, the furniture was indeed painted in those bright colours.
Next time will have a look at how I painted the backscenes.