Saturday, June 30, 2007

Between modroc and a hard place


Firstly, due to all the fiddling about moving between jobs work on the layout has dipped recently, but normal workflow will be resumed shortly...

The first trial section of modroc was tried today. One bandage worth was placed on top of the masking tape/newspaper balls former and then sprayed with a water mister. Then the water was brushed over the top of the modroc. I have chosen this method as I feel it is least messy, will avoid over-wetting and should be more controllable. One downside is the mist did get onto the rails in some areas. These have been dried with a cloth as I didn't want anything to rust!

All the control panel parts have been moved inside and planning how this will be wired up is a priority job ahead.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Quick update

Some quick progress tonight:

- The lettering on my tri-ang 3mm scale bulk ore wagons was removed using the cunning method of white spirit on a cotton wool bud - it really works!

- Four 10mm holes were drilled for the triangular baseboard piece to be held onto the layout. I need to buy some more wing nuts before I can be sure of this will hold, or whether a leg will also be necessary.

- The roadway was slightly repositioned to meet the new triangular piece in the corner and to reflect the fact that the roadway is slightly narrower than I thought. Dave Kent (top man!) to measured it for me - he lives on Fridd Isaf farm.

- I bought some different masking tape from B+Q as the last roll had taken to unsticking overnight. The new stuff is different, but somehow I suspect it will also unstick. I may therefore have to finish the masking tape when I do the modroc so it doesn't have time to come unstuck!

- I started real planning for the Fridd Isaf boards, considering the heights and method of construction for this section - more soon on this...


Monday, June 25, 2007

Every triangle has three sides...

In the words of embrace

"Every triangle has three corners, every triangle has three sides. No more no less, you don't have to guess when its three you can see its a magic number. A man and a woman had a little baby, yes they did, they had three in the family and that's a magic number..."

anyway, the point I'm making is that the triangular piece has been put together, despite horrific rain meaning the garage wasn't really my place of choice! Images below:

To recap this is the piece that allows the backscene to make a nice angkled corner, rather than a 90 degree turn at the L shape...


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

So, what next?


The next jobs to be completed are:
  • Calculating the number of wires that need carrying across each board join and to the control panel - this was done yesterday on the train and showed that 33 wires go between the panel and board 2 and 24 between boards 2 and 3.

  • Painting the rail sides with enamel paint (leather)

  • Completing the hillside base (awaits purchase of extra masking tape), followed by the adding of modroc over the completed hillside

  • Constructing the triangular piece on the side of the 'L' shape made by boards 4 and 5 (awaits a better mitre block)

  • Calculating the heights of scenery around Fridd Isaf and cutting out spines (calcs ongoing)

  • Wiring LEDs to control panel (a job for a rainy day)

  • Ballasting....

On this issue (ballasting), I have recently come across a new product called "Brush It On" which is available from Modellers Mecca.

Below is a shot of a layout (the onehouse model railway) using this product:

The following was posted on an online forum: It comes as a powder and contains particles of glue. Just mix it with water and lay it on the track. Then you have to run some cardboard along the inside of the rails to remove excess from the rails. Any remnants of ballast on the insides of the track will make itself heard as a rumbling sound when the train goes past. It takes about a day to dry after which it is rock hard. After it has dried the tops of the rails need sanding with very fine sandpaper to remove any residue.

Certianly worth getting a packet and seeing what it's like, me thinks!

One other thing ... Dad purchased 3 Tri-ang (3mm scale) bulk ore wagons for me recently (why, I hear you ask?). Well this is beacause they are pretty good candidates for conversion to 009 to act as a representation of the WHR (ex SAR) ballast wagons. With a new bogie chassis )something like this - and some extra plasticard angle, they will do a pretty good job I reckon... Images below.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Stuffing the strut


Is that title a Spoonerism?

First piece of interesting stuff is my Father's Day present (it's cool being a Father - you get presents thrice a year now!). Good book - full colour, hot of the press and £15 from the Ffestiniog Railway shop or via

Just before David left, he helped me erect the Fridd Isaf board so I can construct the triangular shaped piece mentioned before. I'v egot the wood, measured that the first side was to be 29.5 mm, got my mitre block out and then realised that the rubbish IKEA mitre block only fitted wood up to 50mm wide and this is 70mm! Will have to invest in a better one, so that job's on hold for the moment...

I then carried on stuffing between the spines with newspaper and covering it with masking tape. 3 rolls of tape have now been fully used and I've run out - with one spine left to do... I did however manage to glue the culvert in place (to the right in the photo below):

An overall shot of the layout now shows the clear 'bump' above the rock face. cool eh!

and finally a track-level view of the hillside...


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Going haywire (send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance)


Massive progress this weekend, aided significantly by the presence of Dad and David as reinforcements [hence the title!].

So, what did we get done?

- Adding isolating joiners where isolated sections are required (with great difficulty to start with) - the tip here is to do it whilst laying the track in the first place, not afterwards!
- The re-doing of some now 'dodgy' board joins due to expansion/settling since they were first completed. Ballasting will help keep these in place!
- Filed checkrails on points to allow all stock to pass without riding up on them (a known problem with peco points).
- Glued the water tower bases down.
- Filled 6 more hillside sections with newspaper balls and held them down with masking tape
- Glued rocks alongside the stream at the base of the slope as per the prototype.
- Glued weetos box strips across parts of the hillside to create banks before merging it into the newspaper ball bits.
- Added two more spines between the two streams ready to mould that part of the landscape.
- Glued two extra locating pieces for the roof of the 90 degree board.
- Agreed that Point indicator board will now sit in the control panel to reduce the number of wires having to go back and forth from panel to layout.
- Soldered all feeds, tie overs, isolators and frogs to the track, completing all wiring at the track level. This was a massive step forward and now allows the painting of rails and ballasting to be started...

Some images are below...

Lots of wires (!) - colour coded as follows: point motor related (green), isolators (blue), feeds (yellow and red).

Massive thanks to Dad and Dave!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Fettling, nailing, filling...


Some more shots of progress...

The sides of both traversers have been nailed on and look pretty good, if I do say so myself...

The stream area near the Waunfawr-end water tower was cut out and 6mm ply was glued below. Then the channels were formed using polyfilla and a culvert installed at the end (£2 for 2 from unit models for those interested).

The two pillars to help hold the 'roof' of the 2ft square board...

and a general view showing the 3ft board with its backscene attached. This is necessary to form the landscape, but the 4ft side next to it (nearest the camera) will wait until the newspaper forming has been finished on this section, for accessibility reasons.

Other work included having to change my jigsaw blade for the first time since this project commenced and fettling on the side of the 4ft board (just visible in the shot above) with a plane to make sure the backscene will be square when attached later.


Friday, June 08, 2007



Some great progress yesterday and tonight, tempered by a slight accident...

The two streams emanating from the side of the Waunfawr end water tower have been drawn in from photographs and jigsawed out. Two bits of 6mm ply were then cut and glued underneath, giving the streams their base and banks - easy, or so I thought!

I was just filing away the last few bits of plywood and the file slipped, pulling up 12 sleepers worth of track! The next 40 mins or so was therefore taken in stripping off sleepers, adding replacements, and tacking the track down again. In doing so it was necessary to cut the track and after a while messing around with trying to get metal rail joiners to fit (they are really difficult as found earlier), I gave up and used insulated joiners. This may actually be a good move anyway as it will allow a loco sat in the platform to be isolated, whilst perhaps another is tailed on the back...

Other progress has been the cutting out of a section of the Fridd Isaf access track/road and the gluing of it in place with a slight incline up towards the end of the board. Also 4 pieces of hardboard were cut to act as the sides of the traversers and I hope to nail these on asap.

Two pillars to help support the roof of the square board have been added, complete with extra support from two brackets and finally I bowed to pressure and cut a small strip off the 3 foot backscene piece to make the 3ft and 4ft backings the same height (as mentioned in a previous post).


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Promised photos

A photo gallery of recent progress...

The spines all in place and glued down.

The woodland scenics road kit bought for creating the car park and track up towards Fridd Isaf farm. You stick the 'paving tape' down and spread the 'smooth-it' between the tape, before colouring.

The rock face opposite the platform has been cut out and attached to a block of wood ready for the block to be glued in place tomorrow and then the scenery to be put in place around it.

The first load of newspaper and masking tape was added [it's quite therapeutic actually!]. The section nearest the camera needs packing against the backscene board (6mm ply) and so can't be completed until that is nailed in place.
The 6mm ply for the 3ft and 4ft boards was also cut out today ready, but I may decide to finish the wiring before attaching the boards...

One corner of the 6mm ply had suffered some warping as shown, luckily I was able to get the 4ft by 1ft and 3ft by 1ft pieces out of the board without needing this warped bit. PS The B+Q boards are also not quite 2ft wide and so the two backscene boards are slightly different heights. Ummm, not sure about this B and Q place you know!

However, they can be nailed to the board at a marginally different height and so no-one will notice the difference anyway!


Quick update (photos to come)


All 16 spines have now been glued in. Pictures to follow tonight.


Monday, June 04, 2007

More progress


I now have 10 spines complete, 2 new sub-spines closely aligned to the 2 major spines that make up the tallest section of scenery (necessary to help the modroc form into the right shape) and 4 more spines which carry the scenery over the final board to the side of the hidden sidings.

4 are gluing as I write this and the other 2 will be set off gluing tomorrow morning before work, meaning that by the evening, all 16 spines will be complete and can then be glued in place.

I also purchased one more 70mm pine 2m strip from B+Q for the triangular piece that will carry the backscene across the 90 degree turn on the L shape of the layout. This allows the backscene to be at 45 degrees, rather than having an obvious right angle. It will be constructed when the Fridd Isaf board is erected, which will probably be after the wiring is completed and just before the spines are created for the hilly section.


Sunday, June 03, 2007



Good progress today. All 10 'spines' (the new name I have made up for the formers) were jigsawed and the first 6 have had their blocks glued in place ready for fixing to the baseboards. I could only manage 6 as I only have that many clamps! The rest will be glued tomorrow morning before work, allowing all 10 to be glued in place on the baseboards in the evening.

A really enjoyable job actually, especially as it was bucketing it down with rain outside!


Saturday, June 02, 2007

A big update


Right, sorry for the lack of images of progress over the last week or so. Here's a mumma update to make up for that...

The first image is of the box of rock mouldings I made...

and the earth color (colour) kit which I'll be using to colour them...

One of the magnetic signs that I purchased from the FR shop which will be attached to the hidden sidings' fronts - saves a load of sign writing!

I'm still debating what kind of grass base to use. Our local 'instore' shop was selling this hanging basket liner (0.7m squared) for £2.49. Not bad and the colour is excellent, but are the strands overscale...?

Below is a comparision with the auhagen scenic matting. Once its out of the bag, it's just too gaudy. But the scale of the strands is much better. As discussed before, silflor is great but too expensive and thus I'm going to have to consider some other mattings as well (gaugemaster, woodland scenics etc.). As I learned from this auhagen one though, you have to buy one and get it out of the bag before you can really tell!

As I mentioned before much work has been done calculating heights and distances and marking this out on the boards...

The first layer of polyfilla for the ramped section at the end of the car park...

The marked out car park with the only two cars I have at the correct scale. The mini came from the WHR(P) shop in Porthmadog and cost just £1.25!

and, hot off the jigsaw tonight is the first (of 10) of the landscape formers. The clamp is holding on a piece of pine to be used to nail the former to the baseboard. The PVA was £1 from that instore shop again! The papers in the background are the plans and photos I've been pouring over to sort the levels in the last week.

Tomorrow should bring progress on other formers, there are 10 main ones and then work can progress on to...

- using masking tape to hold down newspaper balls to create the contours
- a criss-cross of cardboard strips (yes those weetos boxes!) on top
- modroc applied on top of that and the scenic base starts to come together.
- then finally artex coloured with brown poster paint and the rock mouldings set into the artex

Happy times...


Friday, June 01, 2007

Crank it up...


Still lots going on in the background and although the England match reduced the available modelling time tonight, good progress has been made finally (on paper) sorting the levels out for the scenics east of the station. I hope to mark these out on the boards and start cutting out 6mm ply formers tomorrow.

Also of interest, the Waunfawr end water tank outlet has turned from this beast (with proposed post in place of the scaffold....

To this cranked solution.... Thank goodness - much easier to model and aesthetic!