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Detail hunting at Didcot

Mikkel

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Books are good, but there are some things you only notice in real railway environments. Here's a selection of detail shots from my recent quick visit to Didcot. I know that preservation isn't the same as the actual railways, but there are still things to learn from and be inspired by, I think.

 

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Lubricated points... I don't recall seeing that modelled, but maybe I haven't looked hard enough. It would be easy to replicate, but would it look odd in model form?

 

 

 

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Track keys. First time I've had a chance to study them in close-up since I began dabbling in hand-built track. Before that I was happily indifferent to this sort of thing!

 

 

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I wonder just how perfectionist gangers were back in the day. Was a rotting key like this commonplace, or would it have been replaced before it got to this condition?

 

 

 

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The key on the right is centered, thus breaking the right/left pattern. Maybe to make up for rail creep?

 

 

 

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A ballast wagon to dia P15 of 1936. I see Cambrian have a kit for it. A couple of these would make a nice little project in case I decide to do a 1940s shunting layout at some point.

 

 

 

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Peeling paint, but of a very subtle kind. How to model that? Slice up the paintwork with a scalpel, maybe? Then again, that sounds like something that could go awfully wrong!

 

 

 

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Can of worms! Two P15s in different liveries. My knowledge of GWR PW stock liveries is very sketchy. As far as I remember, there is a debate about black vs dark grey, but the details evade me. I remember reading a piece about this on-line recently, but can't for the life of me find it now. Can anyone help?

 

 

 

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We never get to model wagons that are actually braked. Would be nice to do one in model form. A small removable diorama at the end of a siding with a wagon being unloaded. And the brakes on!

 

 

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Close up of the DC3 (I think?) hand brake. Jim Champ has done a nice intro on GWR brake types

 

 

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Loco Coal to dia N34 of 1946. Another interesting wagon to model, I think. Either scratchbuilt or a modified version of the (incorrect) Dapol Loco Coal.

 

 

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Note the cobweb here on the N34. Now that would be a modelling challenge :-) Strings of glue maybe? Problem is, once you go down that route, everything about the wagon has to be the same level of detail!

 

 

 

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Morton handbrake lever on the N34. Note weathering on the brake lever.

 

 

 

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My first "live" Iron Mink. I do like them. I have one of the old ABS kits in the pipeline for The Depot (1900s).

 

 

 

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Very nice attention to detail here. These little things are what makes a preservation scene come alive.

 

 

 

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I assume the lighter colour on the Iron Mink doors is a temporary measure, but the question arises: Did this sort of thing also happen on the real GWR at times? Or was the painting process too standardised/systematic for that to happen?

 

 

 

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Looks familiar, doesn't it? Anyone who ever had trouble with transfers will recognize this. I don't recall seeing this kind of thing in prototype photos though. Were transfers ever used for numbering GWR wagons?

 

 

 

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The little imperfections that make it real: A bent step. Don't get me wrong: I find the standard of maintenance very high at Didcot. The question is, could we model this sort of thing and get away with it?

 

 

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Again: The everyday wear and tear of things. Ideally it would be an interesting challenge to replicate in model form. But the irony is that it would probably just look like sloppy modelling!

 

 

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Foot crossing with more room on inside of rail, to allow for wheel flanges I assume.

 

 

 

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Point levers with newly replaced boards. A nice little bit of detail to model.

 

 

 

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More replacement wood, this time inside the loco shed. Wish I'd done something like this inside "The depot". Maybe next time. Lovely copper cap, eh? :-)

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Great photo's and commentary Mikkel. Didcot really is a wonderful place.

 

I don't think the GWR every used transfers back in the day. There's quite a few photo's about of wagons fresh from the works which still have the chalk lines on them. These were used as a guide for the numbers and marking to be painted on.

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Lovely photos, I really like your attension to detail in this and your modelling.

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Kev, thanks for that info. Yes, Didcot is such a great place. I need to get back and spend a lot more time there.

 

Pete, I find that one of the toughest part about details is deciding which ones to add and which ones to omit. I suppose the true finescale modeller would say it is necessary to get it all in, but for someone like me it is a lot about finding the bits that help give atmosphere and some reasonable degree of realism. Plus, where do we stop with details - is the cobweb the limit?  It's a bit like defining the length of a country's coastal line :-)

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Wonderful pictures that will find a place in my photo archive.

These pictures are always a great help by modeling.

Thanks.

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Hi Mikkel,

 

Ahhhhh, my other home...

 

You have touched on the thing there with those pictures that the volunteers strive to achieve and that is realism. Not everything is polished within an inch of its life, rather it is - a far as is possible at least - being used as it would have been. The fact that you have been able to take the pictures you have means that its mission accomplished!

 

The paint on the IRON MINK is a result of the doors being repainted at a different time to the rest of the wagon, hence the different tones and level of weathering. The lettering on wagons was always signwritten and I presume these were too. It is probably the effects part of the partial repaint that it had when it appeared in either Sherlock Homes II or Anna Karenina. They put stickers over the writing to disguise the English origins of the stock and painted round them with GWR freight grey. When it came off it sometimes pulled paint off, hence the weird effect.

 

Glad you found something to interest you on shed - and you have only just got to the shed!

 

All the best,

 

Castle

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Job, glad if the photos are of any use. I took lots but better not post them all here as it would become a bit unmanageable. Maybe in the gallery.

 

Castle, I was hoping you would chip in with some background info.  I agree very much with the principle of not making it all too neat and tidy. Apart from the resources this would require, the whole thing could so easily become a fairy tale and not very railway-like. I think the mission is more than accomplished, and I really admire all the effort and thinking behind it.

 

Thanks for the info on the paint effect around the numbers. That's an explanation I hadn't expected :-) Quite a famous little van, then! Once I

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Great photo's and commentary Mikkel. Didcot really is a wonderful place.

 

I don't think the GWR every used transfers back in the day. There's quite a few photo's about of wagons fresh from the works which still have the chalk lines on them. These were used as a guide for the numbers and marking to be painted on.

 

Going on photos dad took at Swindon in the '70s I don't think that they used transfers at all on wagons even then - these were very clearly signwritten. Coaching stock and loco's were probably different.

Adam

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Adam, that's interesting. I suppose that if you are experienced, the wagons can be numbered/lettered quickly enough by hand. So the cost/benefit may not have worked out in favour of transfers even then.

 

Lee, thanks, I hope there is something in there of use. I'm off to see your Blogger blog, I keep getting sucked into RMweb-world and forget that there are other fish in the sea :-) 

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Great post Mikkel and I'm ashamed to admit its a long time since I visited DRC and you living in Denmark too.

 

Maskol has been used to good effect on creating peeling paint.

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Hmmm, so you're thinking of modelling rotten keys?

 

The answer to that one is, no , gangers would not let a key get into that state on the main line. Don't forget, you are looking at a siding, and oak keys are pretty scarce these days, I don't know if Didcot has the machine to make them. Try and get hold of "Track Topics" the GWR book, it'll tell you about the mechanisation at the track factory.

 

Are you really sure you want to model to the degree of detail you are proposing? If so, 4mm would be way to small, consider going to G1, cobwebs become nearly visible. as a gauge, fine for individual models, but for capturing a slice of the railway - maybe not.

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Hi Mikkel -

 

Shame you didn't get a chance to visit 'Pendon' (just up the road) - cobwebs in plenty in the barn.. made fro scraps of tissue paper IIRC...

 

Nice detail shots - I'm there most Wednesdays now helping out with school visits, and must admit I'm already walking past detail like that without noticing it!

 

Regs

Ian

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Robin, thanks for the reminder about the Maskol trick. Haven't tried it myself yet as I've been modelling a period that didn't much need that sort of thing. But for my forties layout I will give it a try to some limited degree.

 

Tim, thanks for the info. Interesting that the keys are oak, didn't know that. I'm not going to model rotten track keys, that was just a general interest question. You raise a good point though: Some of the details recorded above would simply not be visible in 4mm, and modelling them might have the opposite effect of realism. So that's one conclusion from this little exercise. But I'd like to capture some of the other details, like the newly replaced boards, and the way the stock weathers. Nothing new in that of course, but it's nice to have observed these things for yourself before replicating them.

 

Ian, yes it was a bit heretic not to visit Pendon, but I didn't even have time to see all of Didcot either. I remember seeing a photo of those cobwebs in the barn though. Made from tissue, eh? Did they stretch it? I had no idea you are also at Didcot! So I missed both you and Castle. Argh.

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Great set of photos Mikkel and a lot of food for thought.  I think that if you were to take a snapshot of any railway from any era then you'd find unmatched stock colors, patch up repairs, the odd rotten chair and worn out bits of infrastructure.  Maintenance is a constant battle and is often done too late for it to be preventative.  I'd say that repair of the permanent way has always been high on the agenda for the obvious safety reasons, but trust me on this in general.  I've been in the maintenance game all my life and it has always irked me the way owners and managers seem to put it off till its way too late then try and blame the poor old repair man when something can't be made right again.  I like your wry observation regarding attempts of modelling such things and the fact that it would only look like sloppy if tried - think it would take a life time trying to model 4mm scale rust cuts in wagon paintwork anyway. Mind you, can't help thinking that you're just the man to pull it off and that we'll all see it on some Farthing stock shortly!  As for trying to model chairs, rail joiners and grease on the points I'm happy to remain ignorant for some time to come with good old Code 75!

 

Mike

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Hi Mike, you make some interesting points I think.

 

The thing with details is that once you start focussing on them in the real world, there are so many little things and imperfections to notice that it becomes almost overwhelming.

 

But it would be fun to do a wagon with bent bits here and there!

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Graham Beare has written several pieces for the Basilica Fields journal, four of which (so far!) deal with the GWR Gun Street sidings off the Metropolitan line at Artillery Lane and (the then) current prototypical practice - you might find some of the discussion interesting. They're spread over these two pages, and as is the way of Wordpress blogs you work backwards starting with the bottom entry on page 2 and working towards the top entry on page 1.

 

http://basilicafields.wordpress.com/category/permanent-way/

 

http://basilicafields.wordpress.com/category/permanent-way/page/2/

 

Regarding rust erupting from paint; it's easier in the larger scales to replicate it, but can look overdone in 4mm. I was able to do this in 1/32, but have to really reign it in, even in 7mm or it looks wrong. In 4mm I think you'll have to be very careful and use sleight of hand to maybe give the impression it's happening rather than the full-on peeling.

 

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Adrian, thanks very much for the links to Graham's posts. His photos of GWR chairs are very interesting, as are the notes about Gun street. When he wrote "An almost insignificant piece of railway property, with one or two sidings, a catch point and a capacity of around 15 wagons per siding"... I felt immediately like modelling it myself! 

 

I was interested to read about corrosion of rails inside the damp depot, not something I would have considered modelling. His link to Keith Norgrove is also interesting, hadn't seen that site before.

 

Your modelling of rust and paint in the photo above is brilliant. You are right that it would be very hard to get that effect in 4mm - I doubt that I could. 

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Hi Mikkel,

 

An absolutely essential collection of photographs for the minutiae of detail available in the 1:1 real world of railways but, how much detail are you prepared to go to, to satisfy your own preferences and, how much time do you have?

 

I am not being critical of your desires, or your incredible modelling skills. I think the problem is that, we as modellers are only too aware of all the detail, because we are actually putting it all together - hand's on!

 

However, how much detail does the average visitor see? They're hardly likely to be viewing with magnifying glasses and I believe it's the "overall impression and atmosphere" you have created that helps to "suspend the disbelief". I remember you converting an Airfix Castle to a Star and were happy that it "looked right" even though the boiler was technically incorrect!

 

Keep at it. I, for one, am an ardent admirer of your modelling skills.

 

With best wishes,

 

Jim

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Hi Jim, thanks for these interesting thoughts. I very much agree about impression and atmosphere, that's still also what I'm aiming for personally.  I appreciate both modelling styles - the super accurate and the "impressionists". Don't think I should try for the former, it requires a kind of skill and knowledge I simply don't have.

 

I suppose what I was looking for at Didcot were details that added to atmosphere. In principle a cobweb does that  :-) And weathered wagons does too, etc. But I think maybe a I got a bit carried away :-)

 

Anyway, Didcot is such an amazing place it's hard not to get carried away. We don't have so many preservation railways here in Denmark, so visiting one always seems a bit like entering a separate reality!

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Hi Mikkel,

 

Well, at least you have done what I have not - yet; e.g: visit Didcot and, it's only about a 45 minute train journey from my local station (Evesham, Worcestershire), so I have no excuses!

 

Obviously it's on my "to do" list!

 

Best wishes,

 

Jim

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Hi Jim, definitely worth the trip, I think. I only had a short time there but could've spent hours more.

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great pictures

working in Didcot alot, but never been in the Railway Centre, have to make do with the view from the carpark area

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Thanks ess. You really should go for it and spend some time there (although I know how work and pleasures like that don't always mix).

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