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Blog- RobBrooks1's Blog - Monsall Head Viaduct - Bakewell Layout project

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Having written my latest blog on the construction of the Bakewell station building, I thought I would share my experiences of building my 5 arch curved viaduct based on Monsall Head Viaduct which forms an integral scenic part of my layout linking the fiddle yard with the outskirts of Bakewell station. Granted, in real life it is about 5 miles up the line but I needed to fit it into the 11/1/2 x 8 foot layout I have been building so there has been a fair degree of artistic licence.

 

Planning and making the Viaduct

 

By March 2016 I was beginning to get itchy feet. I wanted to make a start on the scenery with Monsall Head viaduct; this was going to link the fiddle yard to the approaches to Bakewell Station.
The real viaduct itself was on a slight curve but the track radii over my model were 36” outer and 34” inner respectively.
This was going to pose significant design challenges, particularly in relation to the inner arches and brick piers. I found an article in the November 2015 issue of Railway Modeller which adapted the Wills viaduct kit to form a curved viaduct. I did some experimentation with the kit piers but found out that it would not cater for my tighter curves. Having started a forum on RM web and received some excellent and comprehensive replies, I decided to bite the bullet and scratch build the whole unit. The choice of material perplexed me. It had to be strong but flexible; it also had to cope with temperature extremes of the cabin, particularly in winter, although I do have electric heating in the area which heats up quite quickly. 2mm card was chosen as it was strong but flexible. It was easier to cut than thin plywood and stronger than plastic. The card was painted on both sides with emulsion paint thus lessening moisture penetration.

 

The existing trackbed of 9mm ply was cut to shape and the viaduct walls were nailed to the sides. The supporting arches were made from 2x1 timber cut to shape and then glued to the valley surface. They were also angled out to match the curve of the trackbed. I spent quite a few club nights cutting the arches (5 on each side) to shape but used a sharp craft knife. The Wills viaduct arches proved a useful template. I heard various comments from some club members such as “You don’t half make things difficult for yourself!” But I pressed on. I started a forum (RM website) enquiring about how to
sucessfully make a curved viaduct and got a very positive response with up to 50 replies. Most modellers used card and sometimes plywood but were
able to disguise the arches quite successfully. A useful tip is that a viaduct can be disguised quite easily as one only ever views it from one side at a time.

 

Once the arches and piers were glued in, it was time to fix in the inner arches. I used a flexible card and plywood which were glued in place. Gaps were filled with modelling filler and sanded smooth. Next came the choice of stonework for the structure. I found a pack of Slaters 7mm Cotswold stone (seen at the Alexandra Palace Show in March) to match the photos of the real structure. Although larger than the normal 4mm, the 7mm matched the stonework far better. I used impact adhesive to glue the stonework on the viaduct and any gaps were filled with the filler. The tops of the inner arches were matched to the angles of the stonework as much as possible, but in the end could be somewhat disguised with paint and weathered accordingly.
My colleague Ron North had taken a keen interest in my efforts so far and offered his service to paint the viaduct. Ron is particularly skillful in blending in the stonework using washes of differing colours. He also managed to get limescale and weathering to leach out from various areas of the viaduct, which look first class. After a couple of sessions the viaduct looked complete so it was time to construct the surrounding landscape. I decided to build a representation of the Wye river valley from pictures as close as possible to the real thing. Again Google images were a useful source and showed the viaduct in
historical context and just as it is today. The scenery was constructed from blocks of polystyrene cut to shape using a hot wire cutter, which was a real
help in keeping the mess down. Once these were glued into place they were covered in plaster bandage and coated with plaster of Paris to add to the strength. Once dry all the slopes were painted brown umber.
I had built up some useful contacts from various scenery specialists who had visited Wycrail over the past few years. Hedgerow Scenics and Double O Scenics produce fantastic grass matting and static grass to add real realism to the project so I decided to give their products a go. Next the grass matting was applied to the slope and held in place by hot glue. Plaster of Paris rocks made in moulds were added to the slope. These were subsequently painted and various flocks, static grass and textures applied. Finally the river bed was added with a unique product called Mod-Podge. This dries to a glossy finish replicating moving water; the effect was most convincing.

 

Operation
The viaduct has added a whole new dimension to the layout and has brought operation of stock to a new level. The sight and sound of weathered sound fitted 9F, WD and 8F locomotives hauling freight trains bring realism to the operation. A variety of passenger trains including Blue Pullman, class 108, Britannia, Jubilee and Black 5 regularly cross the viaduct too. Of course I use artistic licence to imagine that the line never did close in 1968, so heritage steam specials and even the Royal train use the line.
The project has given me a great deal of pleasure and is the fore-runner for other scenic work, including Headstone tunnel, Bakewell station and its associated goods yard and other scenery. This will be covered in a future article (once they’ve been built!)

 

I enclose some photos showing various aspects of the construction process

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