Sunday, June 27, 2010


I know a few have been asking for this so here goes.

As you now know, the layout is built on high density foam, the advantage of this is you can now add foam to build hills and curve the foam away to create valleys, gullys, drains and gutters.  At this stage all we have is track laid on a flat surface, now the ground is rarely, if ever flat. The most important thing to think about is the formation of the land, land rises and falls in all directions. When you are doing this,  try to ignore the track without forgetting about it completely. What you’re trying to achieve is the line cutting through the landscape. Look at photos and you can see where the railways have made cuttings and land fill to build the line to give it steady grades. This is an important stage, it really forms the basis of your scene. The exciting thing here is, as you’re creating the shape, you will start seeing where to form roads, water courses etc. Which really spurs you on to keep going and your layout will start to look like something from the real world.

A few tips here, everything is easily repairable so don't panic if what you have just done doesn't look right. The railways made banks and cuttings to specific angles so do some research into this and make allowances for adding plaster, dirt and rocks. Print photos out and stick them up to give references as to what you want an area to look like. Too much info is never enough so keep collecting.

Next step is to paint the foam, colour isn't that important here but choose one better then what we did, an earthy tone is the go but keep it on the lighter side. This also helps to seal the foam and stops those white flaky bits turning up.

Now there is no need to plaster the whole scene, this would add to much weight and is only necessary were you want add fine detail. The cutting is one such area to be plastered as you need to add the wash out of dirt where water would have run. Now you could go nuts here but on this occasion we choose to keep it subtle. Mix up your plaster so its nice and pasty and have a clean bucket of water handy. Add a bit of colour dye to the plaster to get rid of that stark white colour, wet the area and apply. As the plaster is setting grove out the water course, making sure to not get it too uniform. This is also a good time to add very fine dirt so to get some texture. After it has dried I used some acrylic paints to get a good base colour but don't make it uniform. Paint in a mix of browns,reds and orange. Then add dirt to the wet paint in the colours your after. See Chuck or collect your own.

With colour its all about blending many tones, uniformity is a no-no in the natural world. So now you need to think about what came first, eg, dirt then rocks then dry grass then green grass etc etc. Your particular application will most likely be different to mine so use these as a guide.
Once the dirt is glued and dried it is tricky to get the glue down for the grass as it can clump the dirt up, so thin it and don't over do it. When the grass goes down the same rules apply, blend colours and work from the ground up. The dirt is important as the grass should be patchy, look under the trees in the above photos, you don't want a carpet of grass. The electrostatic grass is really the only way to go, there is still a place for the flock but not like it used to be.

At this stage you can start to add the detail, fences, bushes, trees etc etc. The one thing we did try was the grass tufts from silflor. These are fantastic and bring realism to any scene. Once again you can see, build from the ground up.

Other things you can do is to pick a small area and go to town on it. Over time these feature scenes will blend to give a really nice effect. This is another scene where we used plaster to get that washed away look.

I focused on the bridge module for this post and I think you guys can get an appreciation of how we went about things, it was enjoyable to do and to be honest we could continue adding to these scenes but overall, I am very happy with them.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Model Weekend....

Saturday 6AM, Ian shows up at my door to depart for the Epping Model Railway Club Exhibition at Thornleigh. After a good run and a horrible Maccas breakfast, we arrive at 9.45AM and park the car on some what of a goat track. Phil Collins was supposed to be at the round-a-bout to direct us to the underneath car park but here he is at the top of the hill. So after a bit of stirring, we head down to the show.  We caught up with a number of people, first of which was Brad Hinton. Brad always writes a good article on the Epping show so I wont repeat it, click here. It was also good to catch up with Allen Brown, Aaron Denning, Tom Rogers, Justin Moy, Steve Pracy and even Stephen Ottaway. Also met Dale Richards and checked out his Lever Frames. These are unbelievably good. Will be getting these for my Merriwa layout. If your not on the Yahoo Group click here.
So after a good day, left and spent some hard earned at Toms then checked into my folks for dinner. At 7.30 we arrived at Ray Pilgrims to check out his Bylong layout. It was a brilliant night. Ian and I don't get to "play trains" very often, so when it comes around you can only wish to find a pair of gems like Ray and his wife Christine. Lovelier people you couldn't wish to meet. Check Ray's blog for the events of the night here. Thanks Ray, that saved me some writing.
Sunday morning saw us at Hobbyland, stupidly I didn't get any of IDR's kits at the show, so I picked up some things at the shop but missed out on some of SDS's cattle containers. Oh well, maybe next time.
Stopped in to see Rowan Mangions Main South layout (under construction). This is quite an epic task Rowan has set for himself,it will be interesting to see it when complete. Slipped round the corner to his dad's (Sam)to see his layout, I tell you these boys have parted with some coin.
Anyway that saw us arrive home around 5PM pretty exhausted. Can't wait to do it again though.


Monday, June 7, 2010

A Little Inspiration.....

I was cleaning up some files this morning and found some photos that were taken when Aaron Denning paid a visit. He had a new camera and was keen to try some things. John Barrett had a model circus he built stored at Ian's' so the backdrop was placed on Bowen and a new scene was created. John's circus was modelled at dusk, which means it was back lit through the backscene. It is painted perspex. Anyway the photos will explain better.

44 on tour
A small load

It was a bit of fun, after all there wasn't even track laid on module two at this stage. John has 1000's of little lights to wire up on the circus and it's my job to do it, so one day I will get some pics of the circus and post them. It is quite a piece of modelling.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Making a point, part 2

OK so we have our little frog already to go, but there is one other part to be manufactured and thats the blades. Now I tried using the fast tracks file jig and to be honest, I don't know if it were me or the jig but I just wasn't that happy with the shape I was getting on a filed blade. I don't quite know how to explain it, but if you look at the prototype a blade swings back to the centre of the track after it leaves the heel. Only ever so slightly but it is what it does. After reading The Australian Journal of Railway Modelling, number six, page 28, it clearly shows how a point blade should be filed. I don't know about you, but I was buggered if I could file code 55 rail and still see if I had it right. Andy Reichert from P87 Stores does point blades with a CNC machine and are the correct shape. I can't remember the exact price but it was something like $12 a pair. Well worth it.
Next was to get some rail brace chairs, I managed to wangle some out of stephen Ottaway, no mean feat. Now we have the main components to build a point.

So now its logical but it takes a little time. Lay your paper template, we did them in a group but probably wouldn't do that again. Just to awkward to handle. Lay your copper sleepers remembering to use the thinner sleeper where the chairs are to be placed.
Next start laying your straight stock rails, this is important as the rest of the point guages off this. Once this is done you can locate the frog and continue laying rail.

Once all the rail is down we can locate the chairs to fill the gap between the blade and the sleeper.
I think you get the jist of things and really its just, take your time and watch it come together.
Unfortunately I didn't take enough photos when these were built, something I have to improve on. The next group of photos I think shows why it's all worth the effort.

Anyway last post for a while, need to digress. Cheers