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"For you ze Var is ofer!"




blog-0983732001376160986.jpgThe sirens have sounded the final all clear, the blackout and the blitz are things of the past - and about 40 years after it should have , Blacklade has finally acquired station lights and station signs. I'm even intending to sort out the "bomb damage" behind the station facade and actually finish off the station building. Not before time, either...


In short over the last couple of weeks I've had a big burst of detailing on the layout, and it's made a huge difference.


Not, I must admit, to my accumulated stocks of whitemetal detailing bits and sheets of printed signage . Those have only sustained a modest dent. I had a new unused sheet of Tiny Signs modern BR posters (close inspection suggests they are actually mostly of 1975-80 vintage: there's two posters for the new GN Electrics in there and another one advertising the Rainhill 150 commemorations , as well as lots of posters of HSTs). I've used 3 - I have 32 left... And so on down through the box of scenic bits. It's frightening just how much stuff you accumulate - "I'm sure it'll come in useful for a layout and it's only a couple of quid"


Admittedly Blacklade is a pretty small layout, and I've tried to be sparing. With the boxfile I never really got round to adding more than a couple of items and I was surprised by how effective restraint was. It struck me then that it is all too easy to pile in the detail items just because you have them and feel you ought to use them . The result being something unnaturally busy, where the funeral is queuing behind the wedding and trying to avoid entanglement with the travelling fair : a "quintessence" as defined by Charles Lamb - "an apple pie made all of quinces"


In fact reality is pretty quiet and sparse. I go past our local church quite regularly: I might see signs of a wedding once or twice a year. On a Sunday morning or evening you might see people going into or leaving a service, two or three or four of them at a time. But do you want to run the Sunday train service?


Come to that, if there's a wedding on , it must be Saturday, so the freight trains won't be running....


Stations are not crowded places . I used to use Market Rasen from time to time - in fact it contributed a little to Blacklade , in terms of short platforms and vanished trainshed. There is a 2 hourly service in each direction. Get there 10 minutes before the train - you might be the only person there, there might be one or two others. 4 or 5 minutes to go - there's half a dozen waiting on one platform . The train comes - a bustle of activity - 8-10 people get on , 8-10 more get off. 5 minutes after the train's gone the station's deserted ... For at least 45 minutes of every hour, the only sign of life in the place is the cawing of the rooks in the trees behind


Okay, a three platform terminus with services on three routes will be busier than that . But even my local station , with it's commuter service, is pretty deserted for long periods . It may be full of people before the morning commuter trains depart - but 5 minutes after one's gone there's only one or two people there, if that. Go in the afternoon, or the evening , and unless a train's just arrived, the place is almost deserted - just one or two hanging about under the platform canopy with nothing to do


Blacklade is supposed to be a dreary run-down hulk of a station with a train service that is poor for a town of it's size. The effect of Ascot on race days or Waterloo at 5:30pm on a weekday is not wanted.


On the other hand, signage.... The human brain blots out most of it but the modern world seems to be drowning in the stuff. When you actually stop to look how many signs there are in any view, in any street, on any station, you suddenly feel overpowered by it .


And cars (not that I've much road to worry about) . They've been breeding . They swarm everywhere, thick masses of them, swelling from around the buildings. Never mind Day of the Triffids - "Day of the Common Hatchback" is more like it. I reckon that if you take the average street, parked cars outnumber visible human being by a factor of about 5.... And now they're fitting them with computers. You may be able to take out a zombie army with a machine gun but can you take out a lane of slowly advancing BMWs?




The lack of station lights and station nameboards was annoying me - the station looked bare , it was completely anonymous and lacked a certain vertical emphasis.


I wanted T lights . Because in my youth , those T shaped fluorescent light standards were the norm , a familiar part of the grey universal BR Corporate image. Some were old and had the station name on them, others were newer and didn't . But every station had them and had had for years. Anything else was cause for a second look


They all seem to have vanished while I wasn't looking. It was only yesterday...


A rummage through the scenic box turned up 3 packets of PD Marsh castings, total 15 lamps. And 3 packets of Knightwing castings , total 18 lamps. I reckoned 15 or less would do it.


The Knightwing castings are bigger - taller , with longer light strips across the top. After a certain amount of throught I reckon that the PD Marsh castings represent the original 1950s version , with station name on the strip light, and Knightwing represent the second generation 1970s/80s version, with a plain strip light . Given that Blacklade Artamon Square is a run down dump that has had no refurbishment/investment since Dr Beeching was Chairman of the BRB, I went with PD Marsh, . Several coats of Centro grey later (the jar has now finally expired) a few coats of Tamiya gloss white for the strip lights and some departmental gray on the top, I had lights.


But not station signs on them. A rummage through the accumulated mass of sheets turned up something from DC Kits with blank Regional Railways plates on it - 9 of them. To get the actual name I produced a sheet of possible sign in Word - for modern BR signage , all that is needed is the name on a plain white background . Arial, in bold at 5 point size seemed to be ok , so that's what I went with. Suitable sized strips were then cut out and stuck to the DC Kits signs with Rocket glue, then the DC Kits signs were stuck to strips of plasticard. Then the plasticard strips were stuck to fixing castings robbed from the Knightwing packets


Poster boards were a next step. Three whitemetal castings for standard notice boards were painted up: departure posters were added to two, and timetables to a third . Two of these three were also glazed with scraps of acetate sheet. After that three poster display cases were needed : these were made with 10 thou plasticard, edged round with square microstrip, the poster(s) added and glazed with scraps of clear plasticard. The route diagram came from a DC kits sheet, and three posters from a Signs of the Timessheet; three more were found on an old Tiny Signs sheet , which seems to reperent 1975-80 . At least it features posters for the 1980 Railhill cavalcade, the 1975-6 GN suburban electrification and lots of HSTs . Fortunately no Jimmy Saville though. I picked a couple of "holiday by train + ferry" posters as Blacklade is supposed to be set in the late 80s or 21st century. This does highlight just how long the post -steam era now is - you can't use posters from the age of Harold Wilson and Edward Heath next to current TOC liveried stock . It's actually more of a gap than using Edwardian posters on a 1950s BR layout...




From there I moved on to signage , courtesy of two more sheets from DC Kits and Signs of the Times. By this time I was getting a bit alarmed about how much needed to be done , how long it was taking, (and how much stuff I had available to use) . So I adopted the rule that only the signage and items which were absolutely necessary should go in....


That was still an awful lot. Departure simplifier sheets on every platforms . Timetables (1 set) . Regional route map (1). 3 BR posters, 3 commercial posters . Litter bin on each platform . Platform bench on each platform - these were PD March items , bought at the CMRA Workshop and repainted blue - two went on the concourse , in place of the long - and narrow - platform 3 . Refreshment facilities in the form of 2 vending machines (S kits whitemetal blocks with Signs of the Times wrap round sheets) . Signs - these were stuck to scraps of 10 thou plasticard with Rocket card glue , and stuck to the walls with same.. Platform numbers for each platform.

I decided after I'd installed the signs that I didn't really want to hide them by installing a length of canopy. Strictly speaking there ought to be some covered area on the platform to protect passengers when it rains , but having worked out what would stop being visible as a result , I've been deliberately lazy and decided to leave it out.


The figure came from Cats Custom Characters and is beautifully painted. As I don't intend to have many figures on the layout I thought I could afford to have one really well done.

Another job tackled was the installation of some Knightwing castings for point motors - I only had seven , so the point tucked under the bridge hasn't got one. These were painted and suitably weathered. I also installed a signal cabinet - a whitemetal casting from Radley . I still have 3 out of four that I bought in my scenic box , not to mention some InterCity Models castings , and a packet of Hornby Skaledale that turned up the other day. The shading was done with one of the new Humbrol washes , thinned - a technique shown on a video on the Humbrol website and apparently used by aero modellers to emphasise and shade the panel lines on planes.




Finally the finishing touches were added to the fuelling point. It's striking how only a handful of small touches have a big impact - and are all that are needed. Two oil drums were added (Merit, weathered) plus one of the cast whitemeal pallets in the Signs of the Times pack , suitably sunk in the weeds outside the doors to the store . Hi-vis warning signs were added , and finally the actual fuelling pump . The support post ,and nozzle are from the Knightwing fuelling point kit - where they are essentially extra bits for an earlier version. And that was all I actually used from the kit... I could still built two entire fuelling points with what was left. The hose is from the Signs of the Times detailing pack , and I used the lot (15" - so it can reach the full length of a parked DMU.). It looked shiny and plastic so I toned it down with the Humbrol blue/grey wash


And that was it on the detailing front . A couple of figures are needed , and I have to sort out the back of the station building

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