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P4 Southern extravaganza

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Some presentation planning

It's been a long time since there were any updates to the viaduct project (and no I haven't done any more to that footbridge). This has been due to a variety of non-modelling issues for both John and myself.   Anyway, we're back looking to rebuild some momentum. This weekend we have made significant progress in conceptual planning of the final presentation format (of which more in due course). The main thing was to decide how high to have the track, bearing in mind that it will be different (higher) for the viaduct on its own compared with when it's exhibited with other modules. This has been done, and the track level will be at 1.40 m off the floor for the viaduct solo, and 1.15 m otherwise.   The next thing was to determine depth of scenery at the back to the backscene, and the height of the backscene, taking into account likely viewing distances and eyelines. With some experimentation we were able to reduce the depth of board behind the layout without seeming to compromise the illusion.   This is the real view through the viaduct:         And these are the preliminary test images from today's experiments:       Don't worry about the missing balustrades and pavilions - these were never permanently attached and have been removed pending final detailing and fettling.   The backscene image is based on photos from the actual location. Obviously the final versions will be in (muted) colour with some 'real' vegetation in front. We'll decide on the actual sizes later on when we are nearer completion.

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Work on section 4 and a new visitor.

More work has been done with the balustrades on board 4. They have been refitted, filled, smoothed and sprayed in undercoat to be 'photographically proved'   The 'proving' has been useful in showing up all the imperfect finishing.   Normally this would have probably been OK for 'normal viewing distances' but not for 'cruel' camera close-ups which are now such a part of out hobby nowadays!   The new visitor arrived last week which will be used for our 'blue/grey' operating period. It will also be used on a mixed consist with an original umber and cream set as was the case for a short period in the late 60s.    

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Some medium sized silver birches.

Some medium sized silver birches.   A few more smaller ones will be made and then some other more predominent species will be next, oaks, chestnuts, sycamores and probably some elms would be nice.   There was quite a prominent stand of pines (Scots or Maritime) at the Brighton end embankment. They stood on the road side of this embankment during the main time period that we are modelling. Totally different techniques will have to be mastered to make them!    

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A start on Balcombe station

This is the first actual part of Balcombe station. One of its features from the period we are modelling is a cast iron footbridge - not the one there now, which is an Exmouth Junction concrete product. It is shown here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Balcombe_railway_station_1745357_cc3c259a.jpg . Of note is that at one end there is a conventional landing and staircase, but at the other the bridge connects with a covered staircase coming from the road above. The main bridge deck is also quite long as a result.   This type of bridge is very common across the country and was bought as a 12in:ft kit from suppliers by many companies. Many years ago I had bought a Kemilway brass footbridge kit at an exhibition, and this was basically ideal as a starting point (there are many detailed variations). But one was not long enough, so I acquired two more to give the right length for the main horizontal bridge section. So here is what you get in three Kemilway footbridge kits (most of two on the mat, the rest in the box:     These are superbly designed etches that make up solid looking lattice sections. The basis is the laminating of two lattice sections with opposite diagonals to make the x-pattern lattices. To make the length required I used the curved and horizontal sections from one kit and the horizontals from the other two:     Half-etched channel provides the upper and lower stengtheners, and eventually you end up with this:     At this stage I don't know how long exactly it needs to be, so for the time being I can't add the remaining detail and join the two sides. So I made a start on the landing and staircase which can be completed. The sides of the landing illustrate the same construction process as the main bridge section.       These will attach to the landing, seen here with the appropriate under-arches.     More to follow, probably as quickly as the 10800 loco progress (!)

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Getting ready for Taunton

After the 'great lift' it was time to start fixing some of the balustrades, refuges and pavilions back onto the viaduct deck.   Here are some shots from today of the two boards that we will be showing, about 40% of the total. Lengths of 7mm wide stripwood were temporarily glued with Copydex along the edge of the deck to allow the balustrades to be set at the right distance in from the edge; a simple jig was then used to set them in the right place with respect to the refuge outriggers. The refuges were then added after the alignment strip was removed.   The end balustrades and pavilions are just Copydexed for the time being because the pavilions may need to be removed for final painting.   The buttresses supporting the pavilions have also been extended outwards from their original too shallow construction.                 Quite a bit needs to be done in the next three weeks on further detailing and scenics - we should then be back to near where we were at Scaleforum but in a more finalised condition.

10800

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Some tree surgery!

After the first attempt at tree making using Gordon Gravett's methods I wasn't happy at all with the efforts. Some had the 'broccoli tree' look whilst others looked too dense or with too much 'space' and with the wrong colour foliage! Using the Woodlands 'foliage' just doesn't cut it, at least until I can master a better technique in using it. The Monterey pine has been sidelined with it's dark Woodlands foliage, as it all looks too flat.   The ones illustrated here have all had their original foliage stripped off and replaced with teased out postiche (theatrical hair) with Green Scene scatters added. When I was at a Netherlands show recently, I was advised by Mr 'Anita Decor' that when using postiche and you think that it's finely teased out, do it some more until it's almost falling apart and then you've got it right.   The same armature with adjustments and the foliage re-done using Anita Decor brown postiche and Green Scene 102 scatter. Still not quite light enough!     The pine needs a different style of foliage. The left hand one has had the Woodlands 'foliage' changed for Green Scene postiche and their scatter.(below)     Before and after. The postiche still needs to be more teased out.  

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Pavilions finished structurally

The 'great lift' is now finished, with the addition of the final 2mm at the bases of the pavilions, and I have also put all the moulding detail around the tops of the pavilion columns - at least as far as practicability allows. I had previously done this on one of them, but that got trashed when I separated the roof slab to add the 2mm in there, so it's just as well I hadn't done them all before.   This is what I'm referring to:     Anyway, it's useful to show again how I did it.   Main ingredients - Evergreen 1.5mm angle and 0.5mm square section     Glue the section into the elbow of the angle, this gives a passable simplified representation of the moulding     Cut to length, allowing a bit over for mitreing them for the corners     Separate the collection of pieces into two equal groups, because there will be 'left handed' and 'right handed' mitres. Take a deep breath and get your head round which way to cut them - I used the Chopper for this:     Do the other half the other way round, and you will end up with a collection of left and right-handed pieces ready to fit in place.     I glued them with Uhu, and also applied some MekPak afterwards around the edges and at the corners to provide a bit more adhesion (well it works gluing chairs to ply sleepers).   And here are seven of them completed     John has the last one, but I've got all the bits to do that with when the time comes.   This is roughly the same view as the real photo above     Here I've experimented with some pencil lines to see if they can emulate additional relief that's not actually there - I'm not sure yet whether it will make that much difference (but I probably will do it on all of them when they're finally painted - more neatly obviously!)     And this is what the 'big lift' was all for - to get the cantrail level of the coach about level with the top of the roof slab, rather than being nearer the bottom of the pitched section of the roof.  

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More on 'The Great Lift'

Apart from two pieces on 15 refuges (waiting for timber delivery) the refuges are now all done. Here are all 72 of them lined up, with the incomplete ones at the back. They still need trimming and fitting in places.     With each refuge having 19 pieces, when the last 15 are done there will be 1368 pieces in the photo above!   Balustrades are also all done, and here they all are, 70 'standard' ones and 8 'specials' which are a bit longer for the runs between the pavilions and the inner pavilion and first refuge. The standard balustrades have 7 pieces each, while 6 of the specials have 9 pieces and two of them have 11 (due to cutting/shutting standard pieces). So in total there are 566 pieces in the balustrades.       I'm then going to sort all the refuges and balustrades out into A-team and B-team (hope there's enough A-team!) and start to match them up so I get the trimming and fitting as bespoke as possible - so when we come to fix them to the decks they will actually be numbered! Balustrades will go on first, and I will use 7mm strip to use as a solid guide by Copydexing them lined up along the edges of the deck - saves faffing with pencil lines. I'll have to dream up and make some kind of jig so that they are 'centred' in relation to the refuge positions.   The pavilion roofs have also been lifted by 2mm. This first meant cutting the existing roof off at the top of the columns. The extra 2mm is provided by Evergreen 2mm square section, cut to length on the NWSL Chopper (would never have been able to do all this without one!).       Here the longer edges have been glued on, and after that with all four sides.       Here is the first pavilion with its new roof. There is also a 2mm slab at the base to show what it will look like finally, but the actual bases will be limewood again (delivery coming from Cornwall Model Boats).     And here is all seven of them done so far (John has the eighth with him at the moment), and with a length of balustrade to show the preserved height relationship.    

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Some more trees

Some more trees and an armature for Balcombe. These are all experimental ATM and will be placed at the rear of the layout. I've still got to improve on tree recognition and produce better models of particular types.   Some of these will probably be removable for use on other projects. The smaller ones will be used on the Matford rebuild on the new extension board.  

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Coming out of a period of relative dormancy

Despite John's excellent forestry experiments, it's probably true to say that we've 'relaxed' a bit since the intensive run-up to Scaleforum last September - see http://www.rmweb.co....post__p__496055 for a refresher.   This hasn't been helped by diversions due to work, other projects, work etc although John and I have been busy at times mulling over some of the lessons learned and ideas stimulated from the exhibition. One of these was to add between 0.5 and 1m scenic section at the front and another 0.5m at the back to really give the structure some context and depth, and to force the viewer (not that force is really needed) to look at the viaduct from some distance away. More on this in a future blog entry.   Another lesson taken (or rather realisation dawned) was that the summits of the pavilions were too low in relation to the trains - because we were still deciding on track bed and ballast thickness on the fly - and that somehow the pavilions would need to be raised by about 4mm. We thought about, but rejected, the possibility of cutting out the upper 3mm section of the viaduct deck, and eventually decided to add 2mm to the bottom of the balustrade plinths (and the refuges and pavilions) and another 2mm at the pavilion roof slabs above the columns. Some testing determined that this could be done without destroying the overall 'proportions' (remember this is all being done without any prototype drawings and we can't access the viaduct deck to measure directly).   The first phase - adding to the base of the plinths - is now well underway, following another purchase of appropriate limewood sections from the excellent Cornwall Model Boats. All the balustrades have now been done, and as the photos show I am well into the 72 refuges as well. Limewood is lovely to work with, and quite therapeutic, and the photo of the balustrades shows that I have gently sanded the rectangular section upper coping to a gentle arc as per the originals.     Otherwise here are the 72 refuges in various stages of augmentation (all but one upside down). 17 of them are complete top and bottom, the remainder are work in progress.       And a length of balustrade and refuge together. There is still some trimming, sanding and feathering to do before I get a close fit due to the additional plinth material, and the upper coping on the refuges will need to be shaped to match the newly-contoured balustrades.     There will be quite a few gaps and seam lines to fill, probably by PVA mixed in with sawdust.

10800

10800

 

First foliage added.

First experiment in 'foliation'. Next armature needs more structural branches to fill in the rather bare areas.    

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First of many tree armatures to be made.

Here is the first attempt at a tree armature, following Gordon Gravett's methods (with a few variations in method) shown in his new book.   I can't recommend this book highly enough as the definitive 'how-to' work on tree making. I couldn't have achieved anything without it's guidance.   This is an attempt at a 'grisly' old oak. The small lumps need removing from the thinner wire bits. The 'greenification' is still being worked on for the right formula.   We'll need a large quantity of various trees for Balcombe Viaduct, including some old large oaks, elms and some smaller silver birches. The GG method ones will be at the front and then blending into lesser ones, probably using quite a lot of sea-moss built ones.      

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The Genesis Effect (Trekkies on here will know!) Let the terra-forming begin or fun with nasty chemicals!

The first area to be 'terra-formed' has now been done.   Two of the main reasons for doing it this way is for lightness and durability. Using traditional plaster bandages, they're too easily damaged as I found out on Matford. The whole area is only supported along the edges with the chicken wire doing all work keeping all in place. It may need an second coating with resin as I've missed a few bits here and there. I'll see when it's all cured nice and hard, and of course it adds virtually no extra weight.   The materials that I've employed are used in the marine repair business and are freely available from any good chandlery.   The chopped strand fibreglass matting is impregnated with polymer resin & catalyst and forms a very hard and durable surface. The job ideally should be done in the open air as the smell is very persistent. At the moment the section is in the garage while it cures but with all the doors shut I can still smell it! Hopefully by tomorrow that should've disappeared.   Next to come will be brown earth paint prior to gluing down hanging basket line similar to the old hairy carpet underlay. Then it will be selectively pulled off and treated with various scenic methods. I intend to experiment with the 'Grasmaster' used on top of the pulled off liner.   There still a lot more to do with the main structure before any scenics are done.  

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Last update before Scaleforum

(From John) - some more progress. Much experimenting on the mortar course 'grouting' was done under the guidance of Tim Maddocks. Several paint combinations/types and finally Games Workshop 'Citadel' acrylics came out as the most user friendly and best for speed of application/process, considering the amount that has to be done!   The resin cast corbels are only temporarily attached and are to be replaced with ones from Shapeways 3D printed ones in due course.     The top structures in grey primer prior to being finished with a beige colour to represent the Caen stone.             (From Rod) - these are probably the last photos before Scaleforum in (gulp) three weeks time (well we have to leave something in anticipation!). Just to add to John's photos here are some showing the early stages of terraforming and a bit more detail appearing on the balustrades - still in workshop photographic grey - in the form of limewood strip to represent the coping.   At this (London) end the viaduct continues onto an embankment before rejoining the background topography; at the Brighton end the land rises more gradually from the valley floor to the higher ground to the south.      

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Latest test assemblies

Six weeks to Scaleforum, and the London end is really starting to take final shape. The corbels (brackets) for the refuges are preliminary versions, more detailed ones are on the way.   We also now have the stripwood for making the copings for the balustrades. In due course the levels of the pavilions and balustrades will be adjusted to get the relative levels of pavilion and train absolutely right (something also affected by the track and ballasting configuration).           A few snaps of the 'London' pavilions section with experimental primer.   The first resin cast brackets to be replaced in due course.   At this stage all the constituent assemblies are still to be correctly positioned and permanently glued.  

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10800

 

Plinths and pavilions

Good day's progress today over at John's. Pavilions finished apart from decoration around top of columns, finalised track bed cutting on end boards, and attached 'plinths' to balustrades - using 3.3mm ply sleeper strip, makes a surprisingly big improvement to their 'solidity'. Not done the coping yet, walnut stripwood not yet arrived. Also made a jig for consistent fitting of the corbels supporting the refuges - Mark has finalised the design and a trial run of 20 has been ordered from Shapeways.   Meanwhile John was making good headway on making the basis for the approaches to the viaduct proper, on which the pavilions sit. The photos show a provisional placing of all four pavilions at one end. The balustrades between the pavilions have 28 arches, and those between the inner pavilion and the first refuge have 21, compared to the 'standard' 19, so some 'cut-and-shut' work was necessary to make these.   No this isn't an early pre-production of the Hornby 5-BEL, but an old Wrenn Belle we happened to have handy.            

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10800

 

Centre section cladding completed and experimentally undercoated.

Centre section cladding completed. Some more work still needed here and there, but I think that we're gradually getting it how we want it.   Some expermintation has been done with the primary undercoating as it's important to get the base colour just right when finishing with light airbrush misting. The real thing is like a 'patchwork quilt' of colours. Light browns, oranges, greens, limescale staining, even with engineers blue brick in repaired areas and even individual differently coloured bricks.   In the 'real thing/model' argument one has to be careful not to overdo the colouration and contrasts. Still we'll see when we get to that stage!     Classic view! Approximate ground contour.

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Jigs and batches

Nice to see that we have passed the 10000 views mark - we appreciate the interest.   Here are the two prototype 3d-printed corbels loosely in place on one of the viaduct sections. Just the job, although I can see we may have to face the edge of the track base with plasticard strip to disguise the lamination join - or fill it with something prior to painting.     Yesterday John made up a jig from some bits of brass in his scrap box which enables the accurate trimming of the pier apertures for cladding. Inevitably on a build like this improvements are being made all the time as we progress, to the point where probably no two piers have been built exactly the same way!. Hopefully this won't detract from the overall appearance at the end.         Meanwhile I got on with batchbuilding the remaining seven pavilions.       Here are four of them in various stages of completion loosely plonked on the appropriate track bed board.  

10800

10800

 

First 'long hole' piers & other shorter one clad

Thanks to Andy for sorting access to our blog problem. I have already posted this by way of the 'edit' feature, but anyone who might be interested will not have been notified and it will have slipped out of sight. Apologies to those who may have seen this already.   Here are some more snaps of progress. A few more clad with brickwork along with the first couple of the 'longer hole' piers where the hole goes into the supporting plinths. It's been very difficult to clad the piers properly when using Staters embossed Plasticard. As discussed on a previous thread the brick course alignment is absolutely appalling. discussed here If it wasn't for the fact that we'd already purchased a large quantity of it I'd bin it all. Never again! Surely Slaters should be looking into it and getting new 'moulds'. We (the hobby) has long patronised them and I feel that they should at least supply us with accurate materials! Rant over!      

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Cut-outs, corbels and Scaleforum

It's been a while since the last update, but progress has continued nonetheless - even if not much of it has been by me (work just continues to get in the way). And John seems to have lost his ability to post to the blog directly (Andy is looking into it).   After finishing off some of the outer piers (where the plinths don't come into play) John moved onto, or rather returned to, the inner ones. This is where the tapered piers are inset slightly on the rectilinear plinths, and we now seem to have arrived at a workable system of ensuring that the 'inset' is even all round. There are a couple of points that have caused a bit of a problem - irritation with one and Doh! with the other. The irritation comes from the Slaters brick card where the straightness of the brick courses can no longer be guaranteed and so squareness and matching of blocks of brick is a bit of a lottery - we can only assume the tool at Slaters is old and worn, in any event there is a market opportunity out there for an accurate replacment. The Doh! is because I forgot about the inset when arranging for the semi-circular etches, and the apertures are slightly narrower in the plinths - so we really should have had two sizes made. Never mind, there's always a workaround, especially when we can direct future photographers to ones we know are better than others! Yes we could have had more etches done or had all the brickwork laser etched to start with, but there are budgetary limits!       Meanwhile, up in Kent, Mark has been busying himself with resin casting and 3D printing, the technology for which goes straight over the heads of John and myself. We just marvel at the results, and Mark deserves huge thanks for all his efforts here - largely spontaneously too.   Firstly, we now have the resin cast roofs for the pavilions:     And not one, but two options for the corbels, one in resin and the other 3D printed by Shapeways. Both are very good, but the crispness and Mark's sanity probably mean that we will go for a production run of the Shapeways version.   This is the resin version:     And this the 3D printed one:     Finally, it has now reached the public domain via Scalefour News that the viaduct will form part of a themed demonstration on modelling BR (Southern) at Scaleforum at Leatherhead in September (24th and 25th). It won't be completely finished of course, but the objective is to have the whole basic structure up, with some run-ins at each end, and one end at least sceniced and detailed as far as we can. And some form of train movement will be available, even if one of the temporary tracks might be (sshhh) 00 for the occasion.

10800

10800

 

First 'long hole' piers & other shorter ones clad.

First snap of near finished first pier. Red oxide undercoat applied prior to finding the correct brick colour.   Still some work to do with gap filling and the edge face brickwork will have to be refitted.     Here are some more snaps of progress. A few more clad with brickwork along with the first couple of the 'longer hole' piers where the hole goes into the supporting plinths. It's been very difficult to clad the piers properly when using Staters embossed Plasticard. As discussed on a previous thread the brick course alignment is absolutely appalling. discussed here If it wasn't for the fact that we'd already purchased a large quantity of it I'd bin it all. Never again! Surely Slaters should be looking into it and getting new 'moulds'. We (the hobby) has long patronised them and I feel that they should at least supply us with accurate materials! Rant over!  

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Second section takes shape.

A dry run to check fit of the pier assemblies. The screwed rods are to allow accurate adjustment between the piers and arch sections. All the holes through which they pass are oversize to allow for this prior gluing together and for final bolting to the 'undercarriage'. They will also serve as 'droppers' for track power so no need for wiring through the piers.   The next (big) job will be cladding the piers with plasticard and the curved brick etches.   Also the same with the arches.   Much happier with this one, than the first. Mind you it's always the same in that you finally get it right when building the last one!   Only three more to go!  

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