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steve howe

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  • Location
    Deepest Cornwall, where the sun comes early and stays late
  • Interests
    P4 GWR, L&Y, light railways
    7mm narrow gauge
    Industrial archaeology

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  1. Hi Tom, It always seems to soak in matt and yes, used straight from the bottle. I've never tried spraying it, but I would think it works like a fixative. Steve
  2. A quick update as ground texturing continues: I have gone off PVA as the 'catch-all' for scenic work apart from its obvious uses neat for sticking wood and card. I was never very keen on that technique of sticking loose ballast or scenic textures down with diluted PVA, it always seems a bit 'gummy' to me and, I believe, in the case of ballast, it can increase noise from train mechanisms via the baseboard. I have also noticed that steel rail rusts very quickly in the presence of PVA. I have long been an advocate of Johnson's 'Kleer', a colourless fluid sold as floor sealer. It went off the market for a while, but thanks to the long memory of the assistant in our local Ironmongers shop who claims to be over 100 years old (the Ironmongers - not the assistant...) has been re-branded as Pledge Multi-surface floor polish, its a slightly milky liquid which must contain some kind of surfacant as it is absorbed very readily into porous surfaces. The stuff is applied generously with the eye dropper and left to dry in a warm room for 24 hours, after which everything is nicely bonded. A second application does no harm especially in areas where physical contact is likely to occur. The result is bonded particles which still appear as loose material. Just the job - another satisfied customer! Steve
  3. There is (was) a kit for the Doxford crane loco, I think it was Backwoods Miniatures, but I believe they are not currently trading, there was talk of the range being passed on but I have no other knowledge on that. Steve
  4. Yes! yes! the little old Lewin would be top of many people's lists (including mine) and who better to conjure one up than the Wizard of Wearside? Steve
  5. Seasons Greetings to One and All, Sandsifters continues to progress in erratic bursts of activity, other matters (not least the Festive Season) have impacted on time recently and so much ground has to be made up, although I doubt I'll hit the deadline for Cameo Comp. entries next year! Marran grass has begun to appear along with the embryonic coaling stage. Ballast and weeds, I hadn't vacuumed off before the photo was taken! More grass and sand now covers the track. Applying tufts is getting rather tedious! many more still to go... The basic short grass is Greenscenes 'Summer' with about 30% extra short 'Winter grass' added to get a parched look. Further applications on top of this of 'Summer' medium and long, will add variety. I quite like the sand just showing through in places. Finally for now, the water tank is awaiting painting and detailing. Its a Knightwing small oil tank on scratchbuilt base. Extensive weathering to follow! Steve
  6. I use corrugated card a lot for scenics, scrounged from the local supermarket, and old cornflake packet for the woven support mesh. Assembled with a hot glue gun its fast, easy and cheap!
  7. Well you didn't expect it to stay that colour did you? Here's the start of the footpath leading up and over the dunes. The lighting rather accentuates the texture, in reality its not as coarse as this, and further work with the airbrush will tone it down more. The loose ‘sand’ which covers virtually all the trackwork, road surfaces and the working areas needed careful thought as it had to have a very fine but discernable texture. My background in ceramics led me to a substance called ‘grog’ used by potters to temper clay to reduce cracking and thermal shock. It is in fact fired clay which is then milled to grades ranging from coarse grit to something resembling sandy flour. I got mine via a local school, but it can be had from pottery suppliers online. Grog was sieved over areas pre-painted with PVA, brushed into place and then fixed with a more dilute PVA either from a dropper or hand spray. I recently discovered that Attwood Aggregates sell a similar material which is even finer, and this has been used to supplement the grog along with dried and finely sieved soil. Vegetation The coarse Marran grass that is about the only thing that will grow on sandunes, I’m doing in two ways; clumps were created in great numbers by placing blobs of glue on non-stick baking parchment taped to a metal tray. Then with the earth clip connected, coated first with 6mm ‘straw’ fibres from the electrostatic machine, and then with short 2mm ‘summer green’ fibres which fell between the longer stems and gave a good impression of fresh growth appearing at the base. When set they can be peeled off and stuck in place. I experimented with several glue mediums as I know many scenic modellers have also searched for the ‘ideal’ glue. The Greenscenes Flock Adhesive is very good and works best when thinly spread but can work out a bit pricey if you have large areas to cover. Neat PVA dries a bit hard and shiny and tends to not be sticky enough to hold long fibres upright; Matte Medium, a thicker variant on PVA used for mixing with acrylic paints for impasto work, seemed OK, but for tufts and tussocks I found good old Copydex did the trick. The technique of tuft making has been well covered in a video by Luke Towan, an amiable youth from the Antipodes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFXgSky6JMU so I won’t elaborate here because my technique almost exactly mirrored his. The only advantage of using Copydex is that it dries flexible and I discovered an interesting side-effect; as I use Copydex to fix the sleepers down, the two glued surfaces formed a bond even though they were both ‘cured’. This was very useful when placing clumps between the rails! The clumps will form the ragged edge to more densely covered grass areas, the track has yet to receive its ballast. And just to show I haven't been letting the grass grow under my feet.... I've been making a little Ruston for the sand tramway. Its a Brian Madge kit and whilst not exactly 'fall together' it makes up into a characterful little loco. Unfortunately its out of period for the layout as these locos weren't introduced until (I think) 1947, but I found the world of 009 IC locomotive kits a complete minefield, and most of them seem to be unavailable anyway or require an obsolete or very expensive donor chassis, that I turn a blind eye to that one! Its a pity the motor intrudes so far into the cab but the addition of a portly whitemetal driver should hide most of it. The skips are Roco, and with a little modification can be made to tip. Now back to grass growing!
  8. I have some pre-War industrial buildings to make requiring concrete block walls. Before I sit down and laboriously scribe several feet of the stuff... does anyone know of a pre-formed product? I thought S E Finecast had included it in their range, but the only one I can find is "textured concrete block" which looks nothing like the utilitarian product I'm after. I'm surprised that such a common building material isn't readily available from the Trade? Steve
  9. I've been doing a bit more digging around on this matter and there is a thread on just this subject: https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/120156-009-working-tippers/&tab=comments#comment-2625482 and following SVRLad's suggestion am looking at the ROCO vee skip as an option. They tip as required (apparently) and run well, They are higher in the body than the Hudson version but as these things were produced in a wide range of sizes and shapes, I can live with that for my modest needs! I would be interested to hear how the Peco ones perform though.
  10. I see that Peco also do their own tipper GR-330 OO-9 V-Skips Hudson Rugga, anyone any experience of these? Steve
  11. Thanks indeed, that looks like a way forward. I only intend running three in a rake, but lightness was an issue I was concerned about. I was also thinking about the Snailbeach type side tipping wagons but I am not sure if anyone makes a kit for them in 4mm? Steve
  12. Because of perspective and foreshortening, wonky track always looks worse when viewed at ground level. Probably when seen from our 'normal' viewing heights, it would look smoother. Steve
  13. Looking good Gordon, Inglenooks can be fascinating, both to look at and operate. I started one a while back: https://www.scalefour.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=101&t=3745&hilit=an+inglenook+in+P4 which is about half finished, and would probably remain that way except I was collared at Scaleforum by a certain Challis, C. and before I realised the trap was laid, it had been booked for Railwells next year...….. Suppose I'll have to get the wretched thing finished now! Perhaps we should have an Inglenook feature at one of the finescale shows?? Steve
  14. Landscape The foundation for the scenery is my favoured method of vertical profiles cut from corrugated board scrounged from the local supermarket hot-glued to the baseboard with 30 – 40mm spacers glued between forming an ‘egg-crate’ structure. Strips of thinner card (old cereal packet is just right) about 10mm wide are glued over the surface in a lattice formation and covered with Mod-Roc scrim. I like this stuff because you can fit it in place dry and finish edges neatly before brushing with water to set. Finally an ‘earth mix’ of 1 part Polyfilla to 2 parts dry sieved soil with a generous splodge of PVA mixed to a thinnish slurry is brushed over the scrim to give a tough shell. Final basic texturing uses the ‘Zip texture’ method first described by Linn Wescott in Model Railroader magazine more years ago than I care to remember. It was much used by David Jenkinson on his epic ‘Little Long Drag’ layout in the early ‘80s, but it seems to have fallen out of favour. Odd, because it is a very quick and effective method of getting a semi-finished scenic surface on which further detailed work can be undertaken. In essence, dry plaster is mixed with dry powder pigment of the desired colour. Experimentation is needed to gauge the proportions of pigment to plaster, and it is very much a case of trial and error with small samples until a suitable ratio is reached. In my case I used a mortar dye for colouring cement which was a strong yellow ochre or raw sienna shade. For the record, although I doubt it’s of much use to anyone, my ratio was 5 parts dry Polyfilla to 1 part pigment. This was measured into a large screw top jar and shaken vigorously to mix. The area to be treated was liberally sprayed with water to which a drop of washing-up liquid was added, and the plaster mix sifted over from an old tea strainer. A gentle over-spray will help set the mix. The moisture is absorbed into the plaster which over several hours eventually sets hard. It is important not to touch the surface until the plaster is fully set otherwise the granular texture will be lost. The texture can be built up with subsequent siftings and sprayings until the desired effect is reached. This provided a good general ‘sandy’ surface upon which further Art can be performed. A good video with ‘recipes’ for various colours can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gtd4bNmpQ1k The future's bright... the future's orange!
  15. Can anyone advise if the Dundas Hudson V skip can be made to tip? I want to try to get some to unload sand into a loading chute ideally using a similar device to Giles Flavell's 'End of the Line' layout. Steve
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