Monday, 31 October 2016

The gatehouse

I've made some progress with the estate gatehouse on Corrieshalloch. This was designed to add a bit of interest to the background where it stretches up above the railway. Rather than model it on one of the real Braemore Estate buildings, I wanted something that was quite small but a little bit distinctive. The model I've made is inspired by the gate lodge at Ardkinglas in Argyll (

This building has a distinctive octagonal footprint which challenged my abilities, particularly on the roof. These photos show the model which is basically a plasticard shell with some reinforcing bits. The walls are covered with cartridge paper to mimic the rendered texture, and the roof uses overlapping strips of slates printed and cut from standard copier paper. I embossed the vertical joints between the tiles first, although I'm not sure they show through much after painting. The small sections of dressed stone (chimney stack and gateposts) are also cartridge paper, with the mortar lines embossed. The chimney pots are some whitemetal castings from my scrap drawer.

The next photo shows the windows, which were the trickiest bit (with a few failed attempts). The glazing bars are just painted on clear plasticard, but to try and get them neat I first scored parallel lines for the straight ones with a knife. I had to wing it for the curved bits. After painting, a cocktail stick was used to scrape off any stray paint up to the hard scribed line. I glued pieces of microstrip around the outside to give a raised frame (made over-thick then sanded down afterwards). The bit of wall here is the second gatepost, on the opposite side to the building.

Here are some pictures of the gatehouse in position on the layout, after some initial coats of paint.  More work will be needed to weather and blend it in with the surrounding scene, but I'm quite happy so far.

You can just about see the gate itself below: this is from a Scale-Link etch and soldered to brass posts which sit in holes in the road. It is yet to be painted.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Perth supermeet

Rather belatedly, here are a selection of photos I took during the layout's appearance at the 2mm Perth supermeet in April. The first two shots show my own stock.

All buildings except for the signal cabin are now plasticard shells, although the station building is missing its roof. I'm trying to progress the layout as a whole, rather than completely finishing one building before starting the next.

The next three shots were staged with some of Alisdair Campbell's fantastic Highland locos and stock (along with my four wagons mixed in...). This is what I am ultimately aiming for, although it will be some time before I manage to build up my own fleet.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Bank holiday engineering work

The civil engineers had been a tad unhappy with the road overbridge at Corrieshalloch; probably something to do with a number of non-finescale diesel locomotives getting wedged under it. A quick check of the gauge confirmed what I had suspected: when it was glued down it was somehow pushed down too much, and there was insufficient clearance even for scale rolling stock. There was no option but to rip it up again, so on Monday I finally plucked up the courage to do so. (There is definitely something of the "two steps forward, one step back" about my modelling.)

First is a photo with the bridge removed. I took the opportunity to widen the hole in the sky, in an effort to make its edges less prominent. I also painted these black rather than white, although I will probably settle for a shade of grey as melding into the background better. Unfortunately, I had plastered in around where the bridge joined the landscape, so some cutting and chipping away of plaster was necessary.

Next picture shows the modified bridge back in place (though not fixed down yet). It was a simple matter to raise it up a bit, although I will need to touch up the paint on the bottom edges. I took the opportunity to add the other parapet, which I had been too lazy to do at the outset. This will need painting too, and I will also have to touch up the joins in the (polyfilla + PVA) road surface. However, I can now run converted N-gauge locos without them getting stuck!

The backscene at this end of the layout may also receive some more attention - it has been suggested that it would be more aesthetically pleasing if the hills here had a little more height, so I will ponder it. There is also a bit of a join between road and sky that will need disguising better.

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year update

Since another year is upon us, I decided to take some new photos of the layout. Comparing with those in the blog from a year ago, I realize that I have made some progress after all, although perhaps not as much as I would have liked.

First off, here are three photos of the layout itself. Little work has been done on the buildings since the Nottingham exhibition in March - only construction of the small waiting shelter on the down platform. However, the overall scenery has progressed rather more. Track is now ballasted and painted. I've made a start on the basic ground cover, although there is much to do. I had a go at painting the backscene (in acrylics) and I'm reasonably happy with it, although it will probably need some modification once the final colouring of the actual scenery is set. The lighting has also advanced since the Nottingham show, although it is not obvious here - in fact, an LED strip from has now replaced the IKEA fluorescent strip.

The next two photos show four Highland wagons that I finished off during 2015. I was surprised but happy that they won the John Barker trophy at the 2mm AGM in October. The top two are diagram 6 opens while the bottom two are diagram 23 drop-side ballast wagons. All of the bodies were scratchbuilt in styrene (and I have an accompanying box of failed attempts!) The chassis were cobbled together from 2mm Association parts and don't bear close inspection. For future wagons, I am experimenting with etching more accurate chassis, so watch this space.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Building bridges

This is the road overbridge for Corrieshalloch. Over recent days, I've been adding the stonework to the previously built styrene shell. It's a mixture of Slater's embossed sheet (intended for 4mm?) and plain white card. Into the latter, I embossed a simple pattern of mortar lines using the blunt end of an old screwdriver. This mixture of materials stemmed from the prototype photo I was copying, which appeared to use a mixture of dressed and rather less dressed stone. I'm hoping that the whole will look ok once painted.

The curved wing walls and elliptical arch were a bit of a pain, but the use of a CAD template was invaluable for the arch.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

How I ballast

I'm rather surprised to see that I haven't updated the blog for several months. One of the main areas of progress since then has been the trackwork. First I glued on Versaline cosmetic chairs to the PCB sleepers (tricky to get them to stay put while the "handles" are cut off, even using Araldite).

Then I painted the track in two stages. First, a coat of Halford's red oxide primer from a spray can. Once this had dried, I used the airbrush to apply a coat formed from various shades of Lifecolor acrylic. For this second coat, I tried to spray mainly from above - by tilting the baseboard on its side - so that the rails would retain some of the rust colour in contrast to the sleepers. The whole lot is now too dark in colour but, since the ballast is also too dark, I will be able to lighten it and create more variation later.

The main point of this post is to show the process I have settled on for deep ballasting. I do a small area at a time, and the task seems to have gone on forever!

1. The area illustrated here is around the crossing of a turnout, so I first mask the crossing and check-rail gaps to try to minimise the amount of ballast ending up in them.
2. I mix up a slightly thinned PVA glue, using car screen wash to dilute it (mainly because I'm already using screen wash later, and have it to hand).
3. Using a paintbrush, I spread this PVA fairly thickly around the area to be ballasted. The idea is to get the lower layers of ballast stuck straight away, rather than laying it completely dry. I find this 
minimises disturbance when wetting it.
4. I apply the ballast to the glued area. I'm using a jar of Carr's "ash ballast" which I acquired some time in the past. It is probably too coarse for ash ballast in 2mm scale, but gives a good representation of stone ballast. I apply it from the folded piece of paper you see here, tapping it to release controlled amounts of ballast. This is then tamped by a combination of fingers, a paintbrush, and finally a cocktail stick to remove errant particles from the sleeper tops. This is the most painstaking task!
 5. The next stage is to thoroughly wet the ballast. I've been using car screen wash which avoids the need to mix up washing-up liquid and water. I'm using this pipette rather than a fine plant mister because I don't have one to hand. I also don't particularly want to have to mask the rest of the layout to prevent it from getting wet. Where possible the drops are placed at the edges of the ballast and allowed to spread in by capillary action. This avoids creating the craters that you get if it is dropped straight onto the ballast from above. Once the screen wash has fully soaked in, I tidy up any stray grains of ballast using a cocktail stick.

6.  The final stage is to add dilute PVA/screen wash to the already wet ballast, again using a pipette. This is something like a 50-50 mix, and can just be dropped on from above once the ballast is already wet. Leave it to dry and hey presto!
Actually this isn't really the end of it, as there is a subsequent painful stage of cleaning the rail tops and removing any stray grains of ballast that have somehow still managed to end up in the wrong place. Once all of this is over, I hope to restore the quality of running that I had at the start. Who said that model railways aren't fun!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Seen at Nottingham

Here are a few pictures taken at the Nottingham show last weekend, where Corrieshalloch appeared as a work in progress alongside a sizeable demonstration of 2mm modelling. A first coat of paint on the nascent scenery has made a world of difference!

The next shot is rather grainy - we discovered that those seated at the nearby demonstration table had a nice vantage point:

 Finally a visiting train from points (far) south, courtesy of Pixie: