Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beavering Away

I've now cleaned up the white metal castings and started to assemble the articulated lorry from the Langley Models kit I showed in the previous post.

As for the type of vehicle I'm building, GB was closest in identifying the vehicle as a Leyland lorry, although Adrian was the one to spot that it was articulated. The final missing piece of identification is the model of the lorry, which the title of this post should help with.

The model (Langley Models number E20) is supposed to represent a Leyland Beaver flatbed lorry from somewhere in the period 1949 to the 1970's, which fits perfectly with setting the layout in 1955.

I haven't decided on the full colour scheme for the vechicle yet, although I am leaning towards the same as the example shown on the website of a red body, black underframe, with shiny metal details (the bumper, radiator etc.). As you can see from the photo I've only got as far as the basic grey primer, and there is still some work to do filling gaps between the castings as well (most obvious around between the roof and cab walls but I can't do this until I've painted the inside of the cab and glued down the roof). Even in grey primer though I'm liking how it looks so hopefully it will be a good addition to the layout.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

By Road As Well As Rail

Given that quite a large area of Jerusalem is taken up by the access road for the factory I thought it only right that I included at least one vehicle within the scene.

I did originally intend to buy a completed vehicle that I could just place on the layout (probably from Oxford Diecast as they sell appropriately scaled models) but in the end I've opted for a model I get to assemble and paint instead.

The kit is made up from fifteen cast white metal parts and is from Langley Models. I'm not going to tell you what the kit is meant to represent at this point to see if any of you can recognize it (or guess); just remember I'm modelling 1955 so this should help you narrow down the possible options.

Monday, August 26, 2013

(At Least) One Satisfied Customer

At 7:38pm on the 5th of August someone bought one of my models that I have on sale on Shapeways under the Penistone Railway Works banner. Specifically they bought an OO gauge model of the LNWR, Diagram 103, 1 plank open goods wagon.

The downside of selling models via Shapeways is that I have no contact with the buyers; I don't even know who they are. On one hand this is great as Shapeways deals with all the billing and shipping etc., but it does mean that unless a buyer specifically contacts me I have no way of finding out what they think of the models they have bought.

In this case, however, the someone turned out to be a user called pinddle who left me a comment to say that it was an "excellent model". More interestingly he also included the following photo of his completed model which I'm showing here alongside an old photo I used during development of the 3D model.

I deliberately haven't included a photo of the model I painted as it is no where near as good as this one, and I think you'll all agree that he has done a very good job of replicating the original.

So I can now state that Penistone Railway Works has (at least) one satisfied customer!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Scottish Crates

Having built a loading dock alongside the factory siding I need something to load. Fortunately I'd already sourced something appropriate on my trip to Edinburgh.

When I arrived in Edinburgh I had the afternoon to kill, so rather than heading straight to my hotel I took a slight detour to visit Harburn Hobbies. My reason for visiting the shop was to see their Harburn Hamlet range of N gauge accessories, and after careful consideration I came away with a stack of wooden crates (item number HN 606).

While the stack looks quite good placed on the loading dock, it is also perfectly sized to fit within the open goods wagons meaning I can move it around the layout if I want to. Now of course I need to populate the layout with workers to make the scene more realistic.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Eye View

I've now added some scenery to all of Jerusalem (I haven't necessarily finished doing this but it now looks a lot more natural) and while I'll probably go into the details in later posts I thought I'd show you roughly what I see when I sit back and enjoy the view from my study chair.

This isn't a perfect copy of my view due to the lens on the camera curving the image somewhat (also it is slightly overexposed so the grass is darker), but it should give you a fairly good idea of what I'm currently looking at.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Now I know that when it comes to seeing shapes in clouds (which is apparently called Nephelococcygia) not everyone always sees the same thing. So does anyone else see Max von Sydow's excellent portrayal of Ming the Merciless from the 1980 film version of Flash Gordon (the one with the excellent Queen soundtrack) in this bit of sky from the temporary clouds on Jerusalem?

Personally I can see the eyebrows, moustache, beard and the cowl around the back of his head. Can anyone else see this or am I just going insane?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Drive Safely

Not a train, or railway, in sight in today's post. What you are looking at is the road leading away from the factory which bends to the right over the railway and out of Jerusalem. As you can see I've done some more scenic work, specifically hiding the end of the drystone wall and grassing the slope to the left of the road. The main new item is the speed limit sign. Unlike the "Beware of the Trains" sign, I bought this one which is from a set of pre-1960's road signs made by Ancorton Models.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Health And Safety: The Missing Details

The previous post was meant to be more than just a single photo, there was meant to be some textual content as well; specifically details on how I made the "Beware Of The Trains" sign. Unfortunately I managed to press Publish instead of Preview! So here are the details behind the making of the sign.

While I'm sure I could have bought a Beware of the Trains sign I decided that it was simple enough for me to have a go at making my own; after all it's only two colours, how hard can it be. The major problem is the size of the sign. The sign is approximately 3.5mm wide by 2.5mm tall. This means that the large letters are written in a 2.4pt font! Given that 10pt font is considered small you should be able to get a good idea just how small the letters are. If not then these photos should help.

The first photo really gives a good sense of the scale of the sign, it also shows that laser printed ink actually rubs off quite quickly! To stop this happening I painted on a thin layer of Humbrol enamel satin varnish before I tried handling the printed area. The printed and varnished paper was then stuck to some thin black cardboard (it's probably around 200gsm) and then carefully cut out using a sharp knife.

I made the post from some 0.6mm wire (the same stuff I used on the trees). I cut a piece about 1.4cm long to give me a 5 foot post (at 2mm to the foot that is 1cm) plus 4mm to go into the layout surface. I held the wire in a pin vice while I painted it with Tamiya flat black. Once the paint was dry, I used a cocktail stick to put a tiny drop of superglue on the back of the sign and then glued it to the post. Once the glue had set I gave the whole thing another thin coat of satin varnish. The final step was to drill a small hole (0.65mm drill bit) into the layout and slide the post in.

If you fancy making your own sign then feel free to re-use the SVG file I created (I've included both a white on black and a black on white sign). I did try converting the SVG to a more common format (like a PNG or a PDF) but in everycase the converted file lost too much detail making the small letters unreadable. I'd suggest opening the file with Inkscape and printing at the highest quality setting your printer can manage.

Health And Safety

Saturday, August 10, 2013

From Roots To Branches

Given that I'm not modelling a windswept Hebridean island (although there is at least one person who does) Jerusalem is going to need some trees. Now I've never been a fan of ready to plant trees. They are either conifers modelled as perfect cones or deciduous trees that look more like a green ball on a stick. Even the kits for building trees don't really inspire me; the trunk looks very plasticy and the resulting tree is still very regular looking. What I wanted was some straggly looking trees that were all different but similar.

I've recently been reading through John de Frayssinet's excellent Sceneic Modelling book in which he suggests using sagebrush to create very natural looking trees. Now firstly I don't have any sagebrush plants and secondly John models in 4mm to the foot, and so his trees would be a little big for Jerusalem. It did, however, get me thinking that maybe there was something in the garden that would work.

As this year we have had a reasonable summer we have done quite a bit of work in the garden. This has included removing a number of shrubs that had gone berserk at the back of the garden. I'm not entirely sure what the shrub is but it spreads by putting out underground runners and these runners, cut into bits, looked fairly tree like to my eyes. As the roots went into the recycling bin I cut off the bits that looked promising and left them to dry out. Once dry they were microwaved for about 30 seconds to make sure they (and anything on them) were very dead.

So, yesterday, armed with some dead roots, I set about making some trees. This is essentially a simple four step process, which you can probably figure out from these handy step by step illustrations.

Firstly you need to find the appropriate bits of root. Each root then has a pin inserted into its base to allow it to be easily added to the layout; I used some 0.6mm wire that I had laying around and drilled a 0.65mm hole in each root. The wire was fixed with a small dab of superglue and left to dry. Once the roots were ready I added them to a temporary base (just a push fit into a hole, no glue). The tops of the trees were then sprayed with a matt varnish (specifically Winsor & Newton Artists' Matt Varnish). This makes them very sticky at which point I rolled the tree in Woodland Scenics Medium Green Course Turf. I then allowed the varnish to dry before repeating the process at least once to add more body to the foliage. When I was happy with the tree I then sprayed it with varnish again and sprinkled over some Woodland Scenics Green Blend Blended Turf to add a little colour variation. If you ignore drying time each tree probably took less than five minutes to make.

Once the trees are fully dry I then touch up any areas of the trunk where the bark has rubbed off with small dabs of RailMatch acrylic Sleeper Grime which seems to match the trunk colour quite well. A small hole (0.65mm again) is then drilled in the layout and the tree carefully positioned. I'll probably glue the trees in eventually but for now they are just a push fit so that I can remove them to work on the grass underneath and around them. So here is another shot of the front right corner of the layout with the trees in place.

Friday, August 9, 2013


If you remember the back story for Jerusalem started with the following mumbo jumbo

It's 1955 and little Johnny has borrowed his Dad's camera for a day of trainspotting. He isn't expecting to see much as the sleepy branch-line near where he lives isn't exactly a hive of activity. Having settled himself on a sunny bank it isn't long before the distinctive sound of a hard working steam engine echos down the valley and within a few minutes the train emerges from under the nearby road bridge and into view. A quick press of the shutter and Johnny captures for posterity the first visit of the newly built 82026 to his sleepy corner of England.
At the time I didn't even have a track plan and certainly not a working layout and so I illustrated the post with a black and white photo of the locomotive and bridge just sat on my desk. Well here is the current state of play which I think is a much better match to the description.

The photo is straight from the camera without any digital messing about, which shows how even with the slightly large clouds everything comes together quite nicely. As you can see so far I've only worked on the area to the right of the road, and even then it is only turf and so looks more like a nicely mown lawn than naturally occurring grass. It will look more natural when I bring out the electrified tea strainer!

In case you are interested all the materials, but one, used to create the grass came from the Woodland Scenics landscape learning kit, but so that I don't forget exactly what was used the full list is:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

High Flying, Adored

One thing I haven't talked about so far on this blog (other than a brief disparaging comment) is how I'm supplying power to the locomotives. I'm currently in possession of five controllers (two of which are the cheap and nasty Hornby starter controller) but I have a clear favourite; the Hammant and Morgan Flyer.

There are a number of reasons I really like this controller:
  • It's the controller I remember using with my first train set.
  • It's reassuringly well built. You could probably kill someone if you hit them with it!
  • It's a centre off controller
  • It uses a continuous speed dial
  • It isn't a PWM based controller
  • The illustration on the box is exceedingly dated!
I'm sure everyone will have their own preferences that may well not match with mine, but I think most would agree that they really don't make controllers like this anymore.

The problem is that PWM based controllers are cheap to build (I did experiment with using my Arduino to controller the locomotive which should give you an idea on cost) and so they dominate the market. The problem is that they tend to make the motors in modern models buzz loudly as they essentially turn it on and off rapidly. It is possible to tune the PWM frequency to reduce the noise but in doing so you lose some of the benefits (low speed control seems to suffers quite badly).

The Flyer, however, is based around a large rheostat that gets satisfyingly hot in use as it dumps a lot of the current as heat. The downside is that you wouldn't want to leave it plugged in unattended... just in case. Also it is quite large in comparison to more modern controllers. Of course, it's my layout and I'll cry if I want to I'll choose which controller is used.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cloudy, May Brighten Later

I've finally got fed up of looking at the brown backscene and so have temporarily brought in some clouds.

A few months ago I test printed a couple of options for the backscene as photobox were offering exceptionally cheap poster printing. I printed two options on the same poster, the photo in use here is actually from a panorama I took on Skye a few years ago. The second sky I experimented with was courtesy of Adrian. Unfortunately neither of us were happy with how either sky turned out; the clouds on this one are a bit big, but the colouring is slightly better than on Adrian's (not Adrian's fault but due to the low resolution file I printed as we had problems transferring a better copy).

So while these clouds are only temporary I think you'll agree that they brighten the layout considerably, and show that when we do manage to figure out a better photo then the approach of printing as a matt photo poster will give me a good backscene that will complement the rest of the scenery quite well.

You can also see in this photo that I've finished the factory yard, at the third attempt, with the surface being created and painted in the same way as the access road.

Take Me Home, Country Roads

Just a quick post today to show a couple of features I've recently completed.

Firstly I've re-done the road surface. If you remember from the previous post I painted the road grey and then washed it with thinned down black paint. This kind of worked but left the road quite black, almost looking as if it had just been rained on. Having repainted it a couple of times I still wasn't happy and so I had a look for a different solution. In the end I've gone with another Woodland Scenics product; Asphalt Top Coat. As the name suggests this is specifically designed as the top surface of a road. It is quite a thick paint that produces a fairly smooth level surface as it dries, so while I'm really happy with the colour and texture I might need to introduce a pot hole or two for realism.

As you can see I've now also painted and fitted the dry stone wall, and I hope you will agree that it looks a lot better than in it's unpainted form. In case I need to paint any more matching stone work in the future (or you wish to replicate the colouring) I first painted the entire wall with Tamiya Flat Black and then dry brushed on Woodland Scenics Stone Gray followed by Model Color Flat Earth, and finally Model Color Ivory. To take the shine off I then used a little Humbrol Smoke weathering powder. Having glued the wall in place I think it does a pretty good job of hiding the join between the land and the back scene (although I won't know for certain until I get the sky sorted). In fact I've decided to add a wall on the other side of the bridge for the same reason, although that wall will in turn be hidden by some shrubs, but that is a job for another day.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Where Is Jerusalem?

The problem with Blake's poem is that, other than the line "In England's Green and Pleasant Land", there is no clue as to the location of Jerusalem. Fortunately everyone knows that Yorkshire is God's own county, even Wikipedia gets it right (and no I didn't just edit the page), which allows us to narrow down our search slightly. Unfortunately, Yorkshire is still an awfully big place; if it was a country it would have been higher in the medals table at last years Olympics than Australia! Fortunately this recently taken photo helps us place it more accurately.

Given that we have two wagons, one from Sheffield and one from Pensitone, I think Jerusalem must be somewhere in my local area!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Point Operation

As you may remember from the track plan for Jerusalem, there is a single point on the scenic section which leads into the factory siding. I'd also decided that the point was going to be modelled as being manually operated and had even bought and painted a cosmetic point lever. Well I've now glued the point lever in place, although I still need to add some ground cover around it to make it look more natural.

Now the point lever is in place you can see how the manual operation of the point looks in this video. Personally I think the connecting rod sliding under the base of the point lever is a nice touch.