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Platform construction



So, it's been a while. I have been working on the layout but because my work is very much in dribs and drabs I wanted to gather up my progress into more coherent blocks.


Once the track was down and the wiring complete I turned my attention to the station. It's the biggest part of the layout and felt like a good starting point. When I started this project I simply had Southern region as a theme; I never intended to model a specific location or line. That was until I did some research on Kent stations and came across this picture: https://archive.dulwichprepcranbrook.org/content/catalogue_item/cranbrook-train-station The moment I saw it I knew I wanted to model these exact buildings. The rest is history and contained in my previous entries :)


Interestingly none of the station platforms on the Hawkhurst Branch were built the same. Horsmonden sported a stone-built platform, oddly enough. Goudhurst looks to have been constructed from concrete blocks from what I can tell from photos. Cranbrook station bore the more traditional "stepped" design in brick. Hawkhurst's station platform was sleeper-built. Which one to pick! I see a lot of modellers instantly go straight for brick when modelling steam era platforms and I wanted something that was more reminiscent of this curious little branch. So I went with sleepers for my platform.


I started by marking out the station plan in pen on the board itself. The station itself needed to represent true ground level; no steps up to the platform here! So everything beyond the platform needed to be brought up to its level. I figured I'd use balsa wood to do this. Being light, balsa was a great way of padding the area out to a standard height quickly, plus it would give some rigidity when I needed to "plant" items like lamp posts into the platform surface. Having used a hollow skeleton for platforms in the past I know how important this is! I settled for lengths of 450mm which were 12mm thick and 100mm wide. I use artists' mountboard quite a bit which comes to just under 2mm. I figured if I put a layer of mountboard under the balsa and one on top for the surface that would bring me to 16mm in platform height, about the scale equivalent of the real world height. I started to measure and cut. Don't forget to check height and clearance with multiple pieces of rolling stock as you go!




The balsa wood edge actually sat further back from the rails than the finished piece would be, as the wooden sleeper facade was to be added separately and would contribute extra thickness. The modeller's favourite - coffee stirrers! - was used here. The joy of these little sticks is that they are cheap to buy in bulk and give a very convincing wood effect due to being made of, well, wood! A piece of mountboard was used as a template and the sticks were cut to fit. Annoyingly they were just over typical scale sleeper width so needed to be trimmed lengthways. Even with a good knife these guys are hard to cut and liable to split along their natural grain. Smaller uprights were added at intervals roughly equating to a sleeper length. Hawkhurst station seemed to use a plank of wood (not another sleeper?) as the platform edge. It's very hard to tell from photos but I'm certain it's not concrete, so I used another thin stirrer as the "coping stone" edge. Loctite 60 second all purpose glue is my go-to for this project.


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Quite effective, I think! I'm pleased at least. Painting was next. I didn't want to smother natural(?) wood in acrylics so I opted for a wood stain. The darkest one I could find did the trick. The wood soaks it up a treat and actually gives that kind of washed out, dried old wood look that colour photos displayed. A wash of watered black acrylics gave it a better colour and the soaking action of the wood really helped too. The glue I had been a bit liberal with also contributed to some interesting patterns which I think helped the effect. Be careful with glue folks!




Careful scouring of colour photos also showed a very faint white line along the platform edge itself which trailed off towards the slope. I attempted to replicate this faded line with some masking tape and a light hand!




I initially created a slope at each end of the platform for it descend away as per the prototype. But after some thought regarding my signal box, I decided to go for the design used at Goudhurst where the signal box was mounted at the very end of the platform and some concrete slabs laid in front were used to complete the slope. Although that platform was not sleeper-built, I decided to nick the idea anyway. This required some modification to allow for the signal rods and equipment beneath the platform. The small piece on top forms the wrap-around to cover the balsa edge. The black area will be covered by some slabs and filled with point podding once I get further into the project. The opposite end of the station will slope away as per usual.




The platform surface will be the last layer of mountboard. It will extend out beyond the station buildings and the edge will form the pavement curb in the station yard. I intend to build all my buildings first so I know exactly where everything fits before I fully fix the platform surface. So, onto scratch building!




All for now,


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Nice work with the balsa, the platform edging looks very effective. I look forward to seeing the station, looks like a very appealing structure.

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