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David Holman

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doing Research

 First of all, many thanks to those who have been helping recently as I ponder the mysteries of early 20th century rolling stock. However many books and articles one has, it seems, there are still annoying gaps! Google can help at times, but when you start coming across stuff you have posted yourself, especially that which you made up, then the feeling of being up a certain creek without a paddle starts to loom.

 However, one thing Google led me too was Model Railway Journal, which featured several articles by Richard Chown & the legendary Castle Rackrent system. Indeed, his work has influenced my ideas a lot over the years, though I only have space for one station, while he had lots. MRJ 202 contains a very useful article with colour photos - handy in terms of liveries. One picture shows his WLW loco 'Shannon' working a very interesting train that he called the 'Mail Goods'. This includes a GSW 6w postal sorting van [built by Don Rowlands], plus the two brake vans I bought along with Shannon, after Richard died in 2017. Thus far, I'd been unable to identify these, but the caption solves it by naming them as 'brake/stowage' vans from the Dublin & Meath Railway. This was the line that ran to Athboy, but was taken over by the MGW. Not sure about the livery though - presumably the Midland would have painted them brown?Having long had a penchant for non-passenger coaching stock, the idea of a mail goods is very appealing and given that a carriage truck is also in the picture, I already have a good start for one of my own. In fact, just need a postal van!

 MRJ 127 meanwhile has a four page general description of the system in 1997 - though at this time the magazine old had black and white pictures. There are also hints of what an interesting character Richard was. For example he notes among his achievements as 'owning a Land Rover, designing & building my own house,  & sailing around the world alone'. Remarkably, if someone else hadn't done it first, he was going to model the Cambrian Railway. Thank goodness he went along the Irish path - though he also somehow fitted in several French layouts, a Brecon & Merthyr, plus narrow gauge Norwegian as well. What a man.



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Bolections - now there's a word! Jenkinson does it the way you do window beading on a locomotive. First cut a blank of suitable size [slightly larger all round than the window opening], then glue/weld this in place over the window opening. Once dry/set, cut the opening to size again and then, for the final finish, scrape the edges to a bevel with a knife blade. It is in his book on p27-28, with the note that bolections are not something you normally get in etched brass coach kits & therefore a reason to scratch built if you like that extra bit of detail. My Sligo coaches do not have them, I'll admit!

Now, back to my GSWR six wheeler.

 This was the kit I got from the Richard Chown estate, which he's made a start on the body. I've removed the clerestory roof and done it as a 300 series four compartment First. Anyway, before adding seats [wooden mouldings], I got out the airbrush for a main coat of 'purple lake'. Andy Cundick kindly gave me an article from IRRS in which the colour was analysed as roughly equal parts of Humbrol purple, crimson lake and brown - so that is what I mixed up for the airbrush. As usual, I ended up wearing some of it, but after two coats, on a red primer, it looks ok.

 Seats, glazing and roof [with gas lighting and torpedo ventilators] could then be added, before the body was joined to an Alphagraphix six wheel flexible chassis kit. Lettering is a mixture of HMRS prefix transfers for the numbers and GSWR letters [Southern/LSWR sheet], with the 'First' on each door from a Fox transfer [waterslide] sheet I had in hand for SECR coaches. The GSWR logo is also from that sheet and is a reasonable representation, I think.

 Also in the pictures are two 'quickies' - a horse box and a carriage truck. Both are repaints of two of my SLNCR wagons. The Sligo horse box was ex WLWR anyway, while the carriage truck has had a couple of end boards added & its brake gear remodelled from the Sligo version.  They still need lettering. The WLWR book states there were quite a few of these, but the only pictures I can find are of the six wheel version, which is too big for my dock. So, mine is really just a bit of guesswork and given that there is not much room for variety in such wagons, it will do nicely for now. Hopefully the crimson lake colour is correct [Let me know JHB!] and, interestingly, looking a Castle Rackrent pictures, the end of the horseboxes are black - so can only hope I'm not making the mistake of modelling a model!

 The rationale behind this stock will be appearing on the Belmullet/Blacksod Bay thread in the layouts section shortly.




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Bolections - now there's a word! Jenkinson does it the way you do window beading on a locomotive. First cut a blank of suitable size [slightly larger all round than the window opening], then glue/weld this in place over the window opening. Once dry/set, cut the opening to size again and then, for the final finish, scrape the edges to a bevel with a knife blade. It is in his book on p27-28, with the note that bolections are not something you normal get in etched brass coach kits & therefore a reason to scratch built if you like that extra bit of detail. My Sligo coaches do not have them, I'll admit!


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Non-passenger carriage stock and some more questions

 Not sure why the bolections answer came up again, but it was on my laptop when I opened up again...

 Anyway, have managed to build a MGWR horse box over the last few days and put another coat of paint on the WLW carriage truck & horse box. The questions are:

  • Is the colour of the MGW horse box right? I've used Precision teak, which is supposedly the correct colour, but I'm not sure. It only has a single coat, over red primer, at the moment.
  • When it comes to lettering, my research suggests gold lettering, similar to LSWR type, is good for the WLW stock - but where does it [and the stock numbers] go?
  • Likewise the MGW van - what colour lettering was used?

 Looking at period photos, it seems that lettering often depended on the shape & panelling of the vehicles concerned. Eg MGW open wagons often have MGW on the left hand panel, with the wagon number on the right. Contributions appreciated as ever!

 The MGW horse box is plasticard, based on an Alphagraphix card kit. 60 thou sheet was used for the floor and 40thou for the bodywork, with microstrip for the bracing. The latter was also used to create the louvres in the horse and dog box compartments. I've built up a reasonable stock of whitemetal castings for W-irons, axle boxes etc, while the wheels are Slater's 3'6 Mansells. Compared to the low roofed six wheel coaches, horse boxes are quite tall, so it is nice for the WLW version to have a companion so it doesn't stand out quite so much now.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Waterford, Limerick & Western 6w brake

 Have chosen this vehicle to complete my 'Mail Goods', a train I've poached from Castle Rackrent. With nearly 20x 7mm scale coaches under my belt, this little six wheeler ought to be straightforward. However, it is the first time I've tried rounded panelling and compared to the squared variety, it ain't easy. The bible for such things is David Jenkinson's 'Coach Building Made Easy' and with over 150 on his portfolio, he knew what he was doing. 

 Square panelling just needs lots of microstrip and a little patience in the application thereof. Rounded panelling calls for a shedload of measuring and careful fretwork.  Indeed, the first job is to draw out all the panelling on a sheet of 10 thou plasticard. The two sides are arranged base to base and once all is in place, you then cut out the panels to produce a [very] delicate latticework. To get the rounded corners, you cut each one at 45 degrees and then use a rat tailed needle file. Each panel therefore required eight pin pricks to mark the corners, so no wonder it took around 4-5 hours to get this far. This latticework is then stuck to a sheet of 20 thou sheet and left to harden overnight.

 The next stage is to cut out the window apertures and drop lights, with a further layer of 10 thou behind the latter, so they are inset as per prototype. Fortunately, this represents most of the hard work, for one then makes up a basic inner box structure [40 thou sides and ends, 80 thou base], with just simple cut outs for windows and droplights. The previously made panelled side are then stuck to this & after the end pieces are added. To get the right tumble home on the sides, microstrip is added at waist and roof level.

 So, this is where I've got to. I've also completed panelling for a WLW six wheel brake third, which is included in the photos.










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I thought I was going to be able to post that my WLWR 6w parcels van was finished, but having just processed a couple of pictures, I'm now not sure. Rover 'Damask Red' has up until now been my go to for LMS Crimson Lake [supposedly correct for WLWR coaches], but it is looking a bit too red in the pictures and certainly not as dark as the two goods vans I now own from Castle Rackrent. All comments welcome.

 The model has otherwise turned out alright, though state of the art it is not. Indeed, I could not in any way vouch for much in the way of accuracy, as all I had to go on was a black and white picture of it in CIE days, when much of the panelling had clearly been replaced. The only thing I can say for sure is that the length is correct [!] and everything else is guesswork. For example, the springs and W-irons are what I had in store, while the buffers were cobbled together as well and include white metal castings for the main housing, with some extra brass tubing for the shanks and drawing pins for the heads. The laboriously fretted out panelling above the waistline is purely assumption on my part too.

 Indeed, I'm starting to wonder what on earth I was doing in starting it, though I guess the truth of the matter is a combination of trying something new in the way of modelling techniques and creating a train for 0-6-0 Shannon to pull. Overall then, I guess I have been able to achieve this. The first picture shows the van, complete with HMRS 'prefix' transfers [LSWR] for letters and numbers, plus a couple of Fox waterslide transfers for the WLWR crest [actually SECR, but a decent compromise, I think]. The second shows Shannon and its train [though the carriage truck needs a suitable load still], while behind is the new 101 with a GSW 6 wheeler and two horseboxes - still awaiting a WLW six wheel coach, though at least the fretwork is done for that, thank goodness!



DSCN3123 2.jpeg

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David, not sure if this is relevant but I had a look at Halfords colours and noticed that some specified use of their red primer not their grey one, I think Rover damask red was one of these.

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16 hours ago, NIR said:

David, not sure if this is relevant but I had a look at Halfords colours and noticed that some specified use of their red primer not their grey one, I think Rover damask red was one of these.

I’ve certainly used red primer with this which really brings out the redness of the topcoat. My understanding is that grey primer will produce a more brown kind of hue as opposed to a rich crimson.

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  • 4 months later...

A locoshed for Belmullet

 Can't believe it is 4 months since I did a workshop post, but everything has been layout orientated of late, so it is time to do something more specific.

 Anyone who has built a loco shed will tell you they can be awkward things, that are not a little fragile until the roof goes on. This is mainly because the opening for the loco results in weak spots on the two front corners while because they are perforce, single storey affairs, there is nowhere to put any internal bracing either. Experience has taught me that it is useful to build a loco shed on its own subframe, which can then be screwed to the actual baseboard  once everything bar ground cover has been completed.

 I've based the shed for Belmullet on the one at Ballaghadereen, though I've made the workshop section only half the length. This is because I want a second siding coming off the turntable, so I can park a wagon of loco coal [and another for ash], alongside the line leading to the shed itself. This then made for another weak corner, which you might see has been braced with a short piece of aluminium angle. The core of the building is 5mm foam board, which is covered with Wills  'random stone' sheet on the inside and rendered stone sheet from the same source on the inside. The windows are from the York Modelmaking range and very nice they are too - saving a lot of work in the process, plus they only work out at around £1.50 each.

 Compared to covering the shell in Das clay and scribing the stonework, the Wills sheet is pretty quick too, while it also offers a lot more relief than scribing yourself. The downside is that a lot of filling is required to make the sheets match up, especially at the corners, with subsequent extra scribing too. The base is a piece of 3mm plywood [from Hobbycraft], which nicely matches the height of the cork floor tiles I use as track underlay. I cut a slot out for an inspection pit [which will be deepened by a similar slot in the baseboard itself], then made a length of track from copper clad sleepers and code 100FB rail, as per the rest of the layout.

 At this point, a couple of errors became apparent. First, the front opening was too narrow for any loco to pass through, and second, the shed itself was too short for any of my tender locos! A bit of robust filing eventually sorted the opening, but the shed length required more thought. At first I considered just lengthing it by adding a new section, but that would have messed up the symmetry of the windows. Instead, I've put an extension on the rear wall of the shed, using Wills corrugated asbestos sheet, as sold for 4mm scale. Indeed, all the Wills sheets are 4mm scale, but they seem ok in 7mm & the asbestos  version has bolt heads moulded on as well. Anyway, the story is that, like the Achill Island branch, Belmullet was originally worked with MGW E class 0-6-0Ts, but soon after tender engines arrived, one was driven rather too enthusiastically into the real wall. Realising the need for more space at this point, the engine sized hole was enlarged slightly and a timber framed, wiggly tin extension built.

 A bit of fun was had with the interior, putting in a little basic detail in the form of a decent sized stove [large enough to do a bit of smithing], a workbench either side [one with a large vice on it], plus a storage cupboard for the loco crews. The flooring has been built up to be level with the tops of the sleepers, using card and more embossed sheet - brick setts this time - filled in with Das clay. On the outside, you can see my method of doing guttering. 2.5mm square plastic strip is used for the gutters themselves & this is projected out from the tops of the walls by additional pieces of the same section. The roof slates, when added, will overlap the gaps you can see at the moment.

 So there we are so far. I'm hoping that, by the time the shed is finished, a Kitwood Models 10.5" laser cut turntable kit will be available again, as that circular hole in the baseboard really needs filling!







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  • 2 weeks later...

Details and painting

 It has taken a fair bit of work to get this far. The list includes:

  • Filling in gaps where the stonework sheets are joined, both inside and out, plus at the corners
  • Tidying and levelling the shed floor, then scribing in the setts/bricks
  • Painting the window frames, then glazing them when dry
  • Painting the interior walls white, then toning them down with weathering powders
  • Making and fitting the two front doors
  • Adding the false roof, then putting on strips of slates made from cartridge paper nicked every scale foot.
  • Downpipes, made from 2mm square plastic strip
  • Two smoke chimneys on the roof ridge, plus cap and pot for the chimney [whitemetal casting] in the workshop area.
  • Plus painting the exterior stonework

 All the painting has been done with cheap, art shop acrylics. I used white, black and ultramarine for the slates, with the same colours, plus brown for the stone walls. The doors, windows, guttering etc are a mix of hooker's green and yellow ochre. The model still needs final detailing, not least some weathering, while ground cover will be built up on the base, before it is eventually screwed to the actual baseboard. Have yet to decide whether to add any interior lighting. 

 Lurking behind the shed is a low relief building that will form part of the distillery. Am hoping to blend it in with the back scene like I've done with some of the Fintonagh buildings, with probably something like a scot's pine near the signal box to hide the inevitable liberties needed with the perspective.








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Hooker's Green. Not a special liniment for the big boys [and girls] of the front row, but a very useful dark green, which I use a lot for scenic backgrounds. Comes in a variety of mediums - oil, water & acrylic. On the Belmullet backscene it was mixed with ultramarine [and lots of white] for the distant landscapes and yellow ochre, burnt sienna & again, more white for the nearer landscape. 


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  • 1 month later...

New Turntable

 Argna Town's turntable was a much breathed on [and sworn at] Dapol/Airfix kit, which cost me the princely sum of £5. I made it underslung, added a Freezinghall Models hand cranked turning mechanism [essentially some bits of Meccano] and it generally worked well for over 30 shows. However, for the Belmullet rebuild I wanted something a bit more robust. I thought I'd found it in the form of Kitwood Models 10.5" laser cut kit. It looks a really good product, though I was told by the proprietor that it might not be strong enough for my 7mm scale locos. Nevertheless, I still wanted to have a go, but have been waiting since May for the kit to be available - something to do with the motors not being ready yet. Indeed, the website currently says 'available September'. Hmm...

 However, at the Uckfield show last weekend, I suddenly remembered that South Eastern Finecast do a turntable kit and a chat with them on their stand quickly found they did indeed have one for sale. Intended as a replacement for the Dapol/Airfix kit, you can even use the latter's deck parts if you want, while the base [made from a strong looking single black plastic moulding fits exactly the same sized hole as the Dapol/Airfix one. This last fact became a bit of a no brainer, so I shelled out £50 there and then for the kit.

 The first job was to cut away the surrounding plastic, to leave the circular well which then dropped neatly into place. The rim of the well has brick/stonework moulded on, while the base has a small ball bearing moulded in the centre to take the pivot. The deck is a pice of 2mm thick paxolin, while a range of while metal castings make up things like spacers, bearing wheels and so on. Electrical pick up for the track comes from phosphor bronze wiper pickups touching brass screws in the base. The deck girders are a bit disappointing though, being flimsy vacuum mouldings. I therefore decided to make a new set of girders from 80 thou [2mm] plastic sheet. This has been glued to the deck with 5 minute epoxy, making a strong, rigid structure, albeit as yet undetailed. It will eventually be modelled on the one at the junction for the Ballahagadereen brach [see picture].

 The decking girders are intended to run on flangeless, white metal wheel castings, but in the interests of smooth running, I will replace these with miniature ball bearings. The 'track' they run on is cut from a length of Peco Code 75 flat bottomed track. I simply cut it down the middle with strong scissors and then using Pi x diameter got the right length of 81cm. The single rail and sleepers sit neatly against the wall of the well and is held in place with impact adhesive.

 So far, so good. However, I am currently having problems getting the deck to rotate smoothly, as the paxolin is slightly too big for the well and needs filing back a little. I am also suspicious of the instructions, which suggest using Romford 40:1 gears and 3/32" rod for a hand cranked mechanism. This seems far too flimsy for my 7mm scale locos, so am hoping to use the Freezinghall mechanism again. A further problem is there is scant information in the instructions about how the deck girders are to be fixed to the central pivot. The latter is 4BA studding, with just a nut to hold it to the deck. As far as I can see, there is zero chance of that working, so am hoping that a combination of 24 hour Aradite and Loctite 630 jointing compound in the threads [top and bottom, will do the trick. 

 Will certainly be interested to hear of any other ideas & the final picture might help as it is the exploded diagram of the whole kit.








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Two days hard work on the turntable - some of it tidying up some less than perfect work done before...

 Firstly, found that the well rail had not set in a proper circle, while it turned out that I'd also located it too close to the wall. Chance to practice some new combinations of rude words, after which the rail had to be removed and repositioned 1.5mm inboard. Did this by cementing two circles of 60thou plastic strip at the base of the wall, so the rail and sleepers could go against this.  Now means the brackets holding the deck rollers in place do not scrape against the wall, so the deck turns quite nicely now [!]. Replaced the white metal rollers with some 11mm diameter ball bearings, which likewise improves the running. Ordered these from the web on Tuesday afternoon and they arrived in the post on Wednesday morning. I also had to cut away the ends of the deck girders, as I could not see what the rollers were doing; these can be replaced when I add the cosmetic detail.

 The most head scratching and brow furrowing went into mounting and mechanising the deck. My biggest concern is that the drive axle [4BA studding] is only fixed to the deck by a nut, while the base of the well is only 10mm thick, so there was room for a fair degree of slop as well as a very high chance of the deck coming loose. 

 Hopefully cured the latter befitting a nut underneath, as well as on top of the deck, with some Loctitie 630 in the threads for added insurance. As long as the deck is turned clockwise the top nut tightens against the lower one. Meanwhile, underneath the well have added an aluminium strip, drilled 5mm to support the studding, in a piece of brass tube, which [fingers crossed] stops it wobbling around. Extra Meccanno plates do the same for the crank handle, as seen in the third picture.

 This afternoon, added rail to the deck, on longitudinal sleepers, then made up some half track to link the TT to the loco shed.






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This is my third turntable and though I have built around 60 locos, about the same number of coaches and what must be over 100 wagons, turntables are up there as the most challenging.

 They look simple and cosmetically, they are. However, making one work (and let's face it, there is no point having one otherwise) reliably  involves getting all manner of variables to come together.

 The Dapol/ Airfix one is still about five quid and can be made to work quite well for another twenty, though (for me), getting the track pick ups right proved difficult. The Peco ones suffer because their pickups cause the deck to wobble. The same thing applies to the Finecast one, with overall, the price being the same as Peco, depending on size. No experience of Metalsmith, but as over £200, you'd hope it would be good. Would have liked to try Kitwood Models laser cut ply version, as the mechanism and pickups look well thought out, but have been unavailable for months.

 Ready to run versions are expensive too, but rightly so, given what is involved and that is before index linking the feeder tracks, which can double the price.

 There is also an element of iceberg theory in that there is a lot more going on below the baseboard surface than above. One motor, otherwise promising, needs 15cm of depth, not good for an exhibition layout.

 So obstacles everywhere, but fingers crossed, very satisfying when it works!

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Slow progress on the turntable, though at least it is now at the cosmetic stage. However, the first couple of pictures show the pick up arrangements, with the phosphor bronze wipers on the underside of the deck and my adaptations in the base of the well to improve things. The kit uses a couple of countersunk screws that the wipers press on to get the current to the deck. This didn't seem to work very well, so I've increased the area of contact by adding two copperclad sleeper strips instead. A bonus from this is that power now goes to the siding as well as the loco shed road. The third picture is the underside of the well, showing how the screws pass through the base - this is where the power leads are bolted to.

 The deck sides have benefitted from some micro strip, with added rivet detail, while the top of the deck has had various bits of plasticard sheet to represent timbers. The result is a bit of a hybrid - narrow like the one at Kilfree, but rather deep. It would be quite a drop for anyone falling off the loco footplate to the bottom of the well! However, being quite short [a scale 36 ft], I've decided that adding a walkway would make it look too wide. The track diameter is 40ft, because the rails overhang the coping stone around the well, as per Kilfree.

 The well has had some modifications too. The track for the deck rollers didn't look right with its many short sleepers, so got busy with DAS clay to make it look like it was enclosed in concrete, as per many Irish prototypes. The very base of the well has been given a coat of gloss paint, on to which chinchilla dust has been scattered, for a gravel effect to contrast the concrete rendered effect elsewhere.

 And so to painting. Concrete is a funny colour, even before it gets weathered - a sort of yellowish grey, that also benefits from a bit of added texture:  talc or weathering powders or both. Several coats of cheap artists acrylic have been used, on top of an initial layer of rattle can car primer from Halfords. The girders were fairly simple - black with rust added from weathering powders, while the planked decking is a well weathered brown/grey/black track colour.

 The surrounding area now needs building up with ground cover. This is also an area of compromise - Belmullet is intend to cover two periods: the early 1900s and the mid 1950s. In the former, the line would only have been around ten years old and therefore still fairly tidy one assumes, whereas by the '50s, it would possibly be looking a bit tired. My reasoning is that there has been a bit of maintenance in the early 50s, so the deck girders aren't too rusty though the weeds will probably be already encroaching.

 Finally, a couple of pictures from the two periods - my 101 in GSWR livery and then shades of Kilfree Junction with the G2.







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  • 4 weeks later...


 As much layout as workshop, but this is work in progress, which is why this update is here. Had Belmullet existed, then the loco shed would have been a busy place and no doubt bigger than my modest affair here. In the late 19th & early 20th centuries, potentially four different companies might have visited - MGW, SLNCR, WL&W and GS&W. No doubt each would want coal and water, so it seems appropriate to include a MGW 'fortress' style coal stage. Presumably, the station master [or shed master?] would hold the key and crew would be expected to sign a chitty before they got any coal or water? 

 The coal and water will be on the next baseboard though, so the subject here is an interesting pair of structures I spotted in a photo in Kevin McCormack's wonderful album 'Irish Railways in the 50s and 60s'. Athlone shed has what looks to me like a sand drying installation, with a small coal bunker one side and a large 'shelf' on the other where sand would be spread to ensure it was dry. Am assuming heat from the coal furnace circulated under the sand shelf to do that. That, at least is what will happen at Belmullet!. Next to the sand drier at Athlone is a shed or bothy, so with so many visiting engine crews, it makes sense to have something like this as well.. Both structures look quite narrow and ideally fit the space available. 

 The models are very simply made from card and foam board, with Slater's plasticard for the corrugated iron roofs. Detailing is taking more time than actual building, with stuff like a small pile of coal and a larger pile of sand - the latter being chinchilla dust mixed with weathering powders.

 A fair bit of time has also been spent on general ground cover & this is still work in progress. Various colour photos in the McCormack book has been studied, looking for colour and texture. The base layer is Polyfilla, mixed with PVA and black acrylic, to get a fairly smooth, somewhat oily finish that you see around sheds, with the ground cover coming above the sleepers. Once dry the whole area is being painted with acrylics - essentially using just black, white and brown - but with added texture from talc and weathering powders. There are also some piles of ash. There is an ash pit in front of the sand drier, so crews can empty the fireboxes. This stuff seems to usually have been fairly light grey in colour, but of mixed size and shape. To  create this I mixed at least four or five colours and size of ballast in with a tablespoon of Polyfilla, so it could be set in various sized piles between the two tracks, the front one of which will have an open wagon posed, waiting to be filled. I imagine the SLNCR would be happy to the it away and use as ballast somewhere. More weathering powder and talc is still needed to get the scene looking right, while there also needs to be a further pile of darker ash from the loco smokeboxes.

 The green scatter material you can see is just the foundation for static grass, still to come, but I find it does help with visualising the wider scene. Meanwhile, the loco shed itself is on a separate sub-board, because I want to enter it in my club competition, so it will not be finally bedded in until the end of January. The back scene behind the shed has been cut to the shape of the low relief buildings, with a temporary 'skyboard' slotted behind. Have still yet to decide if this will be MDF or a length of  roller blind. for the whole layout. The photos show the developing scene and include the signal box and signals to help set the scene thus far.









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