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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Project 17 - Exit Stage Right

The bridge forms an effective scenic break where trains exit the layout into a non-scenic fiddle yard. This photo shows the best viewing angle from which to appreciate this. The truncated bridge end is an eyesore of course and could have been hidden by extending the right hand 'window frame' to cover it (only just thought of that).

Move further along and the gaping hole beneath the bridge in the side wall of the layout module  is revealed.

The back scene is a photograph of the actual location with a bit of editing to merge it as seamlessly as possible with the foreground model and then recolouring for Autumn colours.

To Part 1.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Project 17 - Bridge

Northbrook Road railway bridge is the final building to be made for the layout. The main structure is 5mm foam board (a lovely material to work with) covered in decorative paper. The repeating pattern of stones in the decorative paper is evident on the left hand pillar of the bridge but this will be less obvious once the embankment is installed.

To Part 14.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Project 17 - Water Tower

The water tower is a fairly close representation of the Swanage loco yard tower as it existed about 1958. Sometime after and before 1962 the gable end was modified or replaced and the ladder turned 90 degrees with a standing platform added at its top. The tower was demolished after the last steam engine service ran in 1967.

The tower model is made from card with decorative paper overlays. The filler hose is a paper tube, the ladder is DIY 3D printed and the LED lamp sourced from China. The hut alongside is corrugated styrene with a door reclaimed from an old Airfix signal box.

The tower is fixed to the base with 1mm wire glued into two corners. These pass through the baseboard and are bent over in an arc at the rear to hold the tower tight to the baseboard. If I need to remove the tower I just bend the wires straight again. The coaling platform and corrugated hut are glued to the baseboard.

There is quite a bit of detail added to this side of the tower, as the prototype, and I am particularly pleased with the water tap model that I made.

The end of the pipe (copper wire) was bent over to form the spout. Thinner wire was then wrapped around to make the tap body and the two ends of it bent upright and 90 degrees to form the handle. Solder was then applied to the 'body' to smooth over the thin wire wrap and bulk it up.

The last photo shows a night scene with the lamp lit. The starry sky is a stitched image that is not part of the model layout. There is a lot of landscape scenery to add around this installation in due course.

To Part 13.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Website Cover

Features a Class 117 DMU pausing at Misterton station during its journey from Yeovil Junction to Exeter Central in 1964.

View the cover here.

About my Class 117.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Project 17 - Coaling Platform

The platform is made from 18mm thick soft wood covered in decorative stone paper and the surface painted with black emulsion.

The coal stack is real coal PVA glued over an epoxy putty heap. The coal is applied in three layers. The first layer is dust followed by 1mm grains and then hand selected chunks a few millimetres across.

At this end of the platform the grey surface (granite dust) is where the coal has not reached.

The ash pit is a free card kit by Scalescenes.

To Part 12.

To Part 1.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Project 17 - More Trees

More trees in autumn colours have been planted behind the engine shed completing this corner of the layout. The furthest tree and closest are made from spigs of dead yarrow glued together to form a tree like structure and covered in painted sawdust. The brown trees in between are untreated sprigs of dead sedum. They have a better representation of tree leaves so don't need the sawdust enhancement.

To Part 11.

To Part 1.  

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Lima Class 117 DMBS to DMS - Pt 4

The reason I have a Western Region Class 117 is because I thought it ran on the LSWR main line when the Western took over Southern services west of Salisbury from 1963. This is further supported by a photograph in the book 'Yeovil to Exeter' (isbn 0-906520-91-6) that shows an unidentified unit at Broad Clyst in 1964 on a Yeovil Junction to Exeter Central service. Further evidence is its head code of 2C50, which has been independently reported as also being seen on the Plymouth - Exeter LSWR route in 1963.

There is just one problem. It might have been a Class 118 because these were more prevalent in the West than 117s. The only physical difference between the two classes at this time are the car number allocations and the headcode box roof, which is more curved on the 118. With such small differences I am content to run the 117 as a representative DMU on my model of the main line.

Apparently there are many other details on the Lima Class 117 that are incorrect to prototype, a list of which appears here

Apart from the DMBS body panel conversion and the flush glazing the only other items I have enhanced are set out below.

Cab  Front

A new head code, 2C50 printed from computer. This code means Western Region, Exeter Plymouth District, Train Number 50. The closest true type font to that of the prototype offered by the Windows operating system is 'Century Gothic'.

The destination blind behind the centre window shows Yeovil Junction. At the other end of the train it shows Exeter Central. Probably not correct to have two different destinations but on the model railway it is convenient for travelling each direction.

Window wipers have been installed made up from thin plastic sprue.

DMS Number

The numbers on the 3 car set I purchased whilst individually correct do not form a known set of the prototype. The existing DMBS has the number W51342. The DMS conversion needs a new number so I choose W51384 from the same set as the DMBS. The TC (trailer composite) has the number W59518, which is not of this set. It should be W59494 but I don't intend to change that. Further more, these cars were allocated to Southall shed so probably never ran on my modelled line. It is most likely that sets from Plymouth Laira shed would have been used.

On one side of the DMS (ex DMBS) the existing number near the drivers door needed the last two numbers changed. I found it was easy to remove these using a piece of masking tape pressed over and then peeled away, which lifted the numbers without damage to the paintwork. HMRS Pressfix numbers were then applied but their colour was much brighter than the remaining Lima numbers. I toned them down with grains from a black pastel crayon embedded in the matte varnish that was wiped over the numbers to fix them.

On the other side the numbers were on the body panel that was removed during conversion. Therefore, a complete number sequence had to be applied below the largest window near the rear end. These were treated the same as the other side to tone down the colour.


The gap between cars set by Lima is wider than the prototype to allow the train to negotiate toy track curves without fouling but, what is worse is the chasm between the dummy gangways. All my trains have full gangways fitted and this one is no exception. They are made from paper stuck to a piece of eighth inch cork that is held in the dumy gangway of the model.

The End.

To Part 1.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Lima Class 117 DMBS to DMS - Pt 3

This is about flush glazing the DMS windows using vacuum formed transparent plastic.

There are several video tutorials on YouTube that describe how to make a vacuum forming machine. It is quite a simple process so I decided to try it even though I had doubts about the outcome, which proved to be true. A couple of hours work using scrap materials resulted in a neat machine made from an ice cream container and MDF wood.

Some scrap pieces of bodywork from the donor DMBS served as the moulds.

The plastic for forming needs to be made for the process so I cut a flat piece from plastic packaging that had already been through a vac forming process.

This next photo shows the result. The formed glazing is definitely flush but it is more like bubble glass than flat plate glass. It shows that this DIY process is best suited for objects that have generous curves and not sharp corners.

I decided not to experiment further. Instead I purchased from Peters Spares the Flushglaze product SE-12 by SE Finecast. I like this product because there is spare glazing in the pack in case some get damaged or lost during fitting.

There is also another product called Laserglaze by Shawplan that has sharper corners than Flushglaze but the price is about three times more than Flushglaze.

Final photo shows the installed Flushglaze product.

Next job is finishing touches.

To Part 4.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

2 Expos in 2 Weeks


Last weekend was my pilgrimage to Pendon. I first visited Pendon when The Dartmore Scene was housed in an old RAF hut nicknamed Marilyn. A purpose built building has long since replaced the hut and I have visited several times to see development of  The Vale Scene (1st photo).

Pendon is not so much an exhibition in the usual sense of club events. It is in fact a museum of miniature landscape with the flagship layout depicting in very fine detail the Vale of White Horse, as it was in the 1930s.

With only four model railway layouts on display one could complete a viewing within a very short time. However, the correct way to appreciate the exhibits, particularly the massive Vale Scene, is to dawdle at each viewing point to fully absorb the fine details. This proved a little difficult with a fidgety seven year old in tow. I have to commend the volunteer museum guides who were very tolerant of this and one gentlemen in particular who developed a rapport with our Grandson helping him to focus on aspects of the exhibits.

Visit Pendon Museum.


This weekend saw my annual visit to The Basingstoke & North Hants Model Railway Show, one of the biggest exhibitions in the south. I could only attend on the Saturday and for a limited time due to other commitments. This, plus it being a crowded event meant I could not fully appreciate the exhibits or find much of what I needed from the trade. On the plus side I did meet friends whom one rarely sees outside such exhibitions and bumped into Chris Nevard who I first met at the Guildford show this year when he stopped by our Thornycroft Sidings exhibit. Chris was at Basingstoke as the guest judge for Best in Show. I don't know which layout he choose but those that stood out for me were:

Watercress Line (N)

A cleverly designed layout that packed in all four stations from the line in a tiered structure to save on space.

Bath Green Park (00)

A truly magnificent recreation to scale of the Midland / Somerset & Dorset terminus station.

Navigation Road (EM)

My personal favourite. British Railways blue diesel era depicting a N.E. London industrial scene (2nd photo). The whole scene looked authentic helped by finescale standards of modelling. There is very little on the web about this layout and a description of it was missing from the show brochure. All I can say is it belongs to the Sarum Finescale Group.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lima Class 117 DMBS to DMS - Pt 2

There are good interior drawings of the 3 car set here that show the seating and partition arrangements.

Two panels of seating were cut from the donor DMBS, and the rear end of the running model seating cut away.

The two new panels were glued in place at the arrow marks shown in the photo. A recess at the rear between seats was cut for body retaining clip clearance.

There is very little photo evidence of the original interior colour scheme for the green liveried cars on the web and heritage 117 photos show blue seating throughout, which I believe should only apply to first class.

What I deduced from published data is this:

Ceiling and driver cab walls: white
Passenger compartment walls and partitions: yellow patterned with grey triangular darts.
1st class seating: patterned dark blue
1st class floor: light blue
2nd class seat cover and backrest: patterned maroon
2nd class seat headrest: tan
2nd class seat sides: tan
2nd class floor: green
Drivers seats: green
Dashboard: black

I used acrylic paints applied with brush, which required many coatings to hide the manufacturers colours. Patterns were not replicated as it would not be noticeable through the windows of the model. If this was required I would use printed paper overlays instead of paint.

It was nigh on impossible to stop the yellow paint leeching into the window frames. After each coat of paint a damp cotton wool bud easily removed the overspill from the window frames.

Next job, flush glazing.

To Part 3.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Lima Class 117 DMBS to DMS - Pt 1

The Lima Class 117 DMU 3 car set was always shipped with two DMBS (Driving Motor Brake Second) cars. This arrangement does not match the prototype where the trailing car is a DMS (Driving Motor Second).

The difference in window arrangement is very noticeable:
(Photo Left = DMS, Photo Right = DMBS)

There is a conversion kit available from Silverfox Models. However, I choose to use a donor Lima DMBS and do a 'cut and shut' job for my running model because the donor body panels are exact same moulding and paint finish. I was fortunate in winning on eBay someone's butchered DMBS to be the donor.

Changing the body panels at this end of the coach is not the whole story because the window next to the driver doors at the other end is narrower on the prototype than on the Lima model. The difference is not that noticeable so I'll probably leave that alone.

First I cut both body panels off the roof of the donor DMBS using a stand mounted dremel (cutting speed set to 9). The cut was made into the roof a little above the top row of rivets. The cut on the body panel was clean (thankfully) but the roof suffered some distortion along the cutting line due to plastic melt. Not sure if this is due to a worn out cutter or inappropriate cutting speed but it occurred to me afterwards that had I first cooled the body in the fridge then melt during cutting may have been eliminated.

Once the panels were cut away from the roof I lowered the dremel and passed the body panels back through the cutter to trim down to the very top of the rivets. There will be further top trimming later to achieve the final fit.

Next, I selected the window and door arrangements that could be made up into the required replacement panels.

The new panel for each side is made up from two panels cut from the donor sides. Masking tape was used to mark the cutting lines (cutting lines shown arrowed).
The cuts are made with razor saw along the vertical door edges as this will disguise the panel joins except, it is done in such a way  to retain the door hinges and hand rails.

This results in door hinges and hand rails protruding from the panel. The adjoining panel will require cut out outs for the fit.

Alignment is assured by placing a slither of paint on the end of the projections and pressing onto the adjoining panel to leave a mark for cutting guidance. The cut out is then made with razor saw and file.

The two panels to make one are glued together with liquid poly glue.
Photo shows the completed left and right side panels. The panel join is imperceptible in this photo but there is a couple of small gaps that will be filled from the rear with epoxy putty and touched up with a dab of paint.

Turning now to the DMBS to be converted the rear section was removed with dremel and razor saw. The cut at the roof line was just below the row of rivets and finished with a file to the bottom of the rivets.

The edge of the end panel and mating replacement side are chamferred at 45 degrees to disguise the join.

The photo also shows the seams on the replacement panel that is already fitted to the other side and the door handle cut out on this side ready for the implant.

The row of rivets on the top edge of the replacement panel was filed away until a good fit to the body was achieved.

The final photo shows the DMBS (top) and DMS (bottom) body.

Next job is the interior.

To Part 2.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Project 17 - First Tree Grown

The land behind the retaining wall is Northbrook Cemetery with a few mature trees near the retaining wall. Whether or not I place grave head stones in the small area modelled will depend on how much of it is hidden by the row of trees.

The first tree is placed in the corner of the layout. It is shorter than those at Swanage because it is reclaimed from a previous model railway, and I have a second in waiting. It was in green leaf before I re-sprayed it to give the effect of leaves about to fall in Autumn. The smaller tree to the left is in the back scene.

For a detailed instruction on how to grow a model railway tree click here.

To Part 10.

To Part 1

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Project 17 - Long Grass & A Miracle Glue

I return to the long grass issue cited in Part 6. Instead of trying to apply the hemp with a static grass applicator, which was unsuccessful, I simply pinched bunches, trimmed the ends square, dabbed in fast drying PVA glue and stuck in place. Then, whilst still wet, trimmed the height with scissors and  straightened the strands by gently brushing upwards with a toothbrush and from the suction of a vacuum cleaner, which also removed loose pieces.

The hemp is a bit too straw like in colour so I greened it up a bit by dry brushing with green acrylic paint.

The telegraph pole and gradient notice {inset) are also new additions to the scene.

Sticking the A4 back scene printed paper sheets to the back board posed the problem of what glue to use. I knew from experience that conventional glues can lead to air bubbles, creases and stick too fast to allow re-alignment.

My research lead me to Acrylic Matte Medium. This is a gel mainly used to alter the glossiness of acrylic paint. I learned that it can also be used as a paper glue that overcomes all of the issues stated above.

This area of the layout is quite awkward to fit the back scenes in place and I did have problems with the second piece resulting in air bubbles. But I was able to peel it off, apply more matte medium and stick it down smoothly without damage to the printed paper.

To Part 9.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Newbury MRC Expo 2017


A railway is an object of length. Space for it is the biggest challenge for modellers. Where space is limited and you still want a railway of some expanse then you might choose one of the smaller gauges like 'N' or smaller still 'Z'. But, have you heard of 'T' (tiny)? The track gauge is just 3mm and the scale 1:450 I saw it for the first time at the Newbury show. Someone had modelled the Forth Railway Bridge (the prototype is about 8,000 feet long) in 'T' gauge and you know what - the layout was about 25 feet long! It seems even a ridiculously small scale still requires a lot of space.

'T' gauge is not for me and my companion had to turn away feeling ill at the thought of modelling trains and buildings that are hard to see.

My Best in Show goes to Lydgate (OO gauge, 1950s ex-L&Y), an industrial theme with detailed cameo scenes containing people in realistic, static poses. This photo shows one end of the layout, a micro layout in itself that is connected to, but visually separate, from the much larger vista beyond the bridge.

In the Trade

I have been wanting a Class 117 DMU for my own Misterton layout for some time. I had been holding off buying the obsolete Lima in preference for the expected higher detailed Bachmann that was announced a couple of years ago but still no forecast of its availability.

I started to reconsider the Lima offering but following auctions on eBay I was put off by the high demand and high price. Do people not know of the shortcomings, like the trailing car being woefully inaccurate to the prototype?

At the Newbury show a trader was offering a boxed Lima 3 car set for about £10-£20 cheaper than eBay sellers. I scrutinised the models carefully. The condition was excellent although the trader could not test run it for me. I took a chance and bought it. On getting it home I test ran and found it worked ok. I decided to open up the power car to check over the motor and give the cogs a light oiling and to my delight discovered that the previous owner had fitted working headlamps! The implementation was a bit crude being a filament pea bulb pointing at two plastic light tubes and the electrical connections held in place not with solder but with blu-tac!

I corrected the wiring and shrouded the lamp and tubes with black insulation tape but I'm afraid the bulb light is too strong and shines through the black tape giving the appearance of  a camp fire inside the passenger compartment! That will need more work at some point.

Due to the incorrect trailing car style I am thinking of getting a conversion kit to put it right and install flush glazing throughout.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Project 17 - Night Scene

I decided against magnets to hold the shed down as they would be visible inside this open structure. Instead I glued 1mm wire into each corner. These pass through the baseboard and are bent over in an arc at the rear to hold the shed tight to the baseboard. If I need to remove the shed I just bend the wires straight again.

Some fine looking green pendant lights were purchased from a Chinese supplier on eBay. Three inside the shed and one over the entrance and another inside the Staff Room. All are wired in parallel to two 1.5V batteries housed in a battery box with integral on/off switch. No resistors are necessary when powering from 3V total.

The night sky is an artwork stitched into the photograph. Later on the space behind the wall will be filled with tall trees in Autumn leaf.

Below is the scene in daylight.

To Part 8.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Project 17 - Some Groundworks and a Hut

The hut against the back wall is labelled as a Staff Room on a track plan. This one existed until the Branch became a heritage line in the 1970s when it was either rebuilt or remodelled making it longer (I think) and placing the door in the end wall. Difficult to say from photographs what the original hut was made of. The white walls were probably white washed cement render on brick or stone.

The model hut is made from card and fixed in place by a magnet for easy removal. It stands on a raised platform of polystyrene foam packaging and is reached by three steps.

The bank next to it is quite a complex contour to carve from foam packaging so I used a can of expanding liquid foam. First time I used this for modelling and it was quite worrying as it starts as a sticky mess that gets everywhere and expands uncontrollably. It dried hard but with a sponginess to it. Excess was carved away and I covered it with Woodlands Scenics to represent the rough texture of the vegetation here, which may have been ivy in practise.

The grass beside the engine shed is a mix of short green static grass and longer strands of plumbers hemp applied with a static grass applicator. I used hemp as I had some to hand. Being a natural straw colour it  represents long dry grass of autumn. It was not very successful though so, I'll need to go over it again perhaps with proper static grass.

The hard standing by the turntable is a mix of sieved coal dust and ash - very effective.

To Part 7.

To Part 1.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Project 17 - Exit Stage Left

The problem at the west end of the layout, which mimics the prototype, is that there is no bridge, tunnel, building or vegetation to disguise a gaping hole in the back scene where trains exit and enter the stage.

My solution was inspired from the airport scene at Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg where aircraft flying off scene pass through a segmented curtain of sky.

After some experimentation I settled on a curtain ribbon width of 5mm.

Noted: Wrong head code for Swanage.

To Part 6.

To Part 1.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Project 17 - First track laid

At Swanage the ground level in the vicinity of the shed is level with the top of the track sleepers. On the model the track is fixed to the baseboard with double sided tape and the ground level raised around it with corrugated card board. The card board is cut straight to the end of the sleepers and the resulting castellated gap around the sleeper ends will be filled with DAS clay.

The track inside the shed passes over an inspection pit that runs nearly the full length of the shed. The rail base plates that fix the rail either side of the pit are home made 3D printed. 

I am using my stock of Graham Farish Formoway flat bottom flexible track from the 1970s (no longer marketed) with Peco electrofrog turnouts. Formoway track sleeper size and spacing seems more authentic than Peco Streamline to me, being designed to standards set by the British Railway Modelling Standards Bureau. I'm not using Formoway turnouts because they need an additional locking mechanism for the switch blades.

For the period of the model (early 1960s) there does not appear to be conventional buffer stops at the end of the short turntable run-off track or the shed track. In fact, a photo shows a single sleeper laid across the end of the shed track! This will be applied in due course.

The post 1958 engine shed (made from grey board with decorative paper overlays and fitted with LED pendant lighting) was the first item built for the project, predating both the cabinet and turntable construction.

To Part 5.

To Part 1.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Project 17 - Minecraft Torch to Theatrical Lighting

If your child or grandchild has one of these Minecraft Torches then you will know they stop working in a short time if handled roughly. Three faulty ones have been donated to me. They are repairable but not without cutting the plastic body in half to gain access to the inners. This act is irreversible and renders them unusable as a child toy.

Of the two I took apart one had a broken wire and the other had a dislodged battery clip, both easy to fix.

The 'electronics' is very well made so I retrieved these to make some theatrical lighting for my Swanage Loco Yard project.

The LED array produces a spotlight with a very bright white light. I installed two of these (wired in parallel) into a holder made from foam board left over from the cabinet construction.

I intend to build a Winter or Autumn scene on the layout so I needed a cold light. I placed a medium blue plastic filter in front of the LEDS and about 10mm in front of that a frosted plastic diffuser to spread the light.

I wanted the unit to be removable for servicing so into its frame I glued two small neo magnets (very strong) that will latch onto a row of metal staples glued into the cabinet side wall. The second photo shows the staples held by the magnets.

I placed the light unit nearer to the front of the cabinet than the back.

My idea is that it represents the morning sun in the East.

I will not know for sure how effective this will be until most of the scenery is in place. As it stands the right hand side (East) is brighter than the left  hand side (West) giving the impression, I hope, of a diffused sun breaking through a patch of thin cloud on an otherwise dull day. In due course this will be emphasised further with an appropriate sky back scene.

In the last photo can be seen the Minecraft Torch battery box and switch resting on the baseboard. These will be built into the side panel later and be accessible from the outside.

Since the last posting a couple of stone effect retaining walls have also been installed. These are prominent features of the prototype. On the model the rising ground level towards the rear will create an effective scene on this small layout.

To Part 4.

To Part 1

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