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Experiments in Scenery

Posted by Ian Smith , in Scenery 07 May 2015 · 1,383 views

2FS GWR Static Grass
Today I have well and truly been brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century!! I've been playing with static grass - the last time I did any scenery on a model railway I used surgical lint a'la Barry Norman.

So having purchased a couple of bags of Heki grass (a green and a beige, both 2-3mm long), borrowed a friends static grass applicator and inspired by Gordon Gravett's book on grass etc I had a go. Mr Gravett seems to advocate blending his static grasses, so that is precisely what I've done too (a mix of about 3 green to 1 beige). The area I decided to experiment on is the Up end embankment (this is the area that all of my experiments take place - point rodding, signalling, ballasting).

A layer of Green Scene's "Flock Cement" was spread along a portion of the embankment (a few pieces of flock were immersed in the glue to hopefully provide a clumpy effect for small areas of the grass), and the first layer of grass fibres deployed. After a couple of minutes I had what looked a good coverage, so the area was vacuumed over and the loose fibres collected in a hanky over the end of the pipe. These fibres were popped back in the applicator and a second coverage deployed to hopefully fill up any glue that hadn't been covered first time.

Once the whole section of embankment I had earmarked for this experiment had received these two applications, some PVA was put on randomly and Woodland Scenics foliage was pressed into the wet glue. After all this had dried reasonably, I then kind of "dry brushed" PVA to the tips of some of the previously laid grass fibres, and a further deployment of just beige fibres applied to these PVA patches. Only small areas (no more than 2" square) were done at a time as I felt that the small amount of glue would dry very quickly. After each patch had been treated, the residue was vacuumed off and used on the next section.

For a first attempt, I'm fairly satisfied with the results (photo's below). I probably need to attack little areas with a pair of scissors and/or tweezers to thin out some of the clumps though.

3 photos showing the grassy embankment which also show the Baulk Road and Point Rodding along the embankment
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Having taken the above photos, I couldn't resist the opportunity to show my Metro tank and 4 wheel coaches in their natural environment
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Ian
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Focalplane
May 07 2015 20:52

Yes, I need to be dragged into the 21st Century too!  The end result is very natural.

Looks really good Ian. I'm sure that some of the grassland could use an upgrade if you want some more practice.

 

Regtards, Andy

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cornish trains jez
May 08 2015 07:28

Very nice.

That looks really good Ian, Will you be bringing Modbury to Chelford?

R

 Hi Ian

 

As Andy states its a nice start, probably better than my first attempt.  

My experience is that if you mix fibres that is what you get on the layout, a mixture that appears to lack texture and and has an overall similarity  that lacks variations with a definate colour seperation, if you understand my meaning.  Having done something like 46 ft on Bob's Fence Houses layout if you look at some of the pictures it will perhaps become more clearer.  I know you have seen it in the flesh because you have been on an adjacent stand behind us on a number of exhibitions.

 

My technique is to set your base colour for the overall area working in a small area not too far from the earth pin and with minimum uniform clearance between the mesh grill and the ground. This gives the best upstand as if these distances become too great the strength of the electrostatic field falls away dramatically, I believe as the square of the distance.  I have then added different colours or different lengths by adding a second coat as a dusting in selected areas, perhaps even using a seperate different colour to add gradients or blend areas together such as where you go from burnt grass to say a shady area which does not get as much sun.  This gives the more definate areas of colour that you have seen.  Finally you may want sprinkle some coloured foam particles to add texture.

 

Regarding adhesives I just used 50% diluted PVA  for the base coat and in some ares we ended up just using the coloured base paint that went over the plaster skim. 

To add the second  and subsequent dressings I used Firm Hold Hairspray from Poundland.  (Quite few cans in the case of FH but I enjoyed the experience).  As this is flammable you have to be certain that you are not going to get a spark discharge if you get too near the earth pin. Try a sample outside first to be sure unless you know it does not go off with a loud crack if you get too near or catch the earth pin.  My first  applicator was home made with an open tea strainer and used to go off with a frightening noise if this happened and as it retained a charge you got one hell of a shock if you touched the mesh when refilling, not serious as there was minimal current but about 1000V was enough to cause you to throw it up in the air involuntary.  ( This is the easiest way to convert from what looks like a pool table to a desert in one easy action.)  This was never used with flammable adhesives.  The second one also based on a fly swat but with a modified circuit so that the charge was not retained and essentially only present when the button was pressed. It was easy to add some burnt grass consistently.  In narrow areas such as betweeen the edge of the track and wooded areas or fields  where burnt grass changed to normal green I added a paper mask inside the container with a slot cut in it so I could treat a narrow area alongside the track without applying it to an area the full width of the container which contained the mesh inside a plastic housing. Finally after all was set I used to give it a final blow over with hair spray just to ensure evrything was firmly anchored and not likely to work loose in transit. 

 

Bit of a long description but I hope you find it useful.  We are at the DEMU exhibition at Burton on Trent on 30 May in a non steam format if you fancy a trip to the Brewery Heritage Centre so you can always see the results there and decide for yourself.

 

Regards

Alan

Looks great Ian, I particularly like the colour contrast between the green grass and the red rodding :-) There's a good article in last months MRJ about static grass application that I found very inspiring. The Metro looks very at home trundling along the embankment. Dave

That looks really good Ian, Will you be bringing Modbury to Chelford?

R

Richard,

Thank you.  Yes I am at Chelford with Modbury.  Trying to get more track work on the other baseboard in time for it between various experiments :-)

 

 

 Bit of a long description but I hope you find it useful.  We are at the DEMU exhibition at Burton on Trent on 30 May in a non steam format if you fancy a trip to the Brewery Heritage Centre so you can always see the results there and decide for yourself.

 

 

Alan,

Thank you for the concise description of your work.  I ought to re-read the MRJ article you penned!!  Don't think I will make it to Burton unfortunately - I think a couple of members of the Midland Area Group will be going along to help chairman Jim with his layout though.

 

 

Looks great Ian, I particularly like the colour contrast between the green grass and the red rodding :-) There's a good article in last months MRJ about static grass application that I found very inspiring. The Metro looks very at home trundling along the embankment. Dave

 

Dave,

Thank you.  It is a bit of an experiment really, I really need to read up a bit more about the techniques (and makes and colours people are using).

 

Ian

Great views Ian, espceially the last one along the embankment. What will the scene be like in front of it? Fields? 

Great views Ian, espceially the last one along the embankment. What will the scene be like in front of it? Fields?


I agree with Mikkel - the last shot looking up is very compelling.

Lovely stuff Ian...

Very good Ian. The mixture looks good to me the addition of the beige makes a lot of difference and with the darker green clumps looks quite believeable for Devon to me. I think that at the turn of the century cheaper labour would have meant the sides of the bank would not be allowed to become overgrown. Any trees or bushes would be along the fence at the bottom of the bank.

 

Don

Great views Ian, espceially the last one along the embankment. What will the scene be like in front of it? Fields? 

Mikkel,

There will be a field along the front of the embankment.  Not sure what to put in it though - torn between simple pasture (with Devon Red cattle in it), corn field, or mown hay with stooks drying and waiting for collection.  Beyond the embankment will be another field with woodland rising up on the hillside behind it.

 

 

I agree with Mikkel - the last shot looking up is very compelling. Lovely stuff Ian...

 

Pete,

Thank you.  I took some other shots looking up at the train on the embankment which unfortunately came out too dark but otherwise looked quite atmospheric.

 

 

Very good Ian. The mixture looks good to me the addition of the beige makes a lot of difference and with the darker green clumps looks quite believeable for Devon to me. I think that at the turn of the century cheaper labour would have meant the sides of the bank would not be allowed to become overgrown. Any trees or bushes would be along the fence at the bottom of the bank.

 

Don

 

Don,

Thank you.  I don't intend to do much else to the embankment side itself, certainly no trees at this point.   Although at the foot I was going to put in some Rosebay Willowherb (just for a bit of local colour).  I need to do a bit of research to see what the fencing would be - I am thinking post and wire but don't know yet what spacing the posts would be at, I believe that there would have been 7 wires (more closely spaced nearer the ground) but I may simplify that to 4 or 5 wires!

 

Ian

The seven wires with the spacing closer at the bottom was what there was in the Forest of Dean. However a lot of the fencing there had some bridge rail  posts. Not available to you unless you assume it comes from nearby relaid main lines nor would there be many recovered sleepers. I think oak posts. As for spacing this seems to be the gen

http://www.rmweb.co....d-wire-fencing/  post 10 by Miss Prism

 

Don

The seven wires with the spacing closer at the bottom was what there was in the Forest of Dean. However a lot of the fencing there had some bridge rail  posts. Not available to you unless you assume it comes from nearby relaid main lines nor would there be many recovered sleepers. I think oak posts. As for spacing this seems to be the gen

http://www.rmweb.co....d-wire-fencing/  post 10 by Miss Prism

 

Don

The seven wire type appears to have been very widespread, though the lower runs can easily be hidden in the grass.

 

Why wouldn't bridge rail strainer posts be available? The GWR had been using bridge rail of varying weights and profiles since 1838, so I doubt there was any shortage of worn rail or, indeed, of recovered sleepers which had been quite normal on standard gauge since the 1860s.

 

The only problem I'm aware of with using bridge rail in fences at an early date is that I've yet to find a definite example in photos before about 1890. Not a problem with Ian's period.

 

Nick

Mikkel,

There will be a field along the front of the embankment.  Not sure what to put in it though - torn between simple pasture (with Devon Red cattle in it), corn field, or mown hay with stooks drying and waiting for collection.  Beyond the embankment will be another field with woodland rising up on the hillside behind it.

 

I remember seeing Coldrennick Rd in Railway Modeller and being struck by how well a yellow corn field can set off GWR green engines. On the other hand, Devon Reds would match the point rodding :-)

Having had the pleasure of operating Coldrennick road it does show of the trains nicely. I believe Devon reds would be rather darker than Torbay Bright, although we have what looks like some in a field we pass regularly most are darker but one is much lighter

Don

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John lewsey
May 11 2015 06:39
Some lovely photos Ian

Looks really good Ian. I'm sure that some of the grassland could use an upgrade if you want some more practice.

 

Regtards, Andy

 

Oops... I just noticed that I missed out 'on St Ruth'. Sounds all wrong without that!

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