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steve howe

Trenance

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It has often been said in the model press that the GWR branch terminus is a hackneyed subject for a model and has been done to death. In the 1960’s and 70’s when many layouts were strongly influenced by the writings of C. J. Freezer, this may have been true, certainly many schemes based on the ubiquitous Ashburton appeared in the modelling press during that time. Ashburton was often cited as the ‘typical’ GWR branch terminus; in fact it was quite the opposite, the famous timber train shed, was most unusual for a country branch station, and apart from Moretonhampstead was almost unique. In more recent times, the Great Western branch line as a generic subject for modelling has been well researched and published (Williams 1991 - 93) proving that there is really no such thing as a ‘typical’ GWR branch and that it was a highly diverse and individual, not to say idiosyncratic, subject. In fact, in recent years models of GWR branch termini seem to have become scarce, with very few appearing at exhibitions.

When the Falmouth MRC was considering a new, small and easily transportable exhibition layout to mark its 60th Anniversary year, thoughts turned to a compact branch terminus scheme which could be operated by two people and transported in the back of one or two cars. One of the emerging problems facing exhibition managers these days is the prohibitive cost of transport both in fuel and van hire fees, which makes inviting large layouts to shows an expensive proposition. Both our current exhibition layouts fall into this category and given our remote geographical location in the far south-west, makes taking them out a major commitment. In addition to the need for a new layout, we felt it would be a good opportunity to demonstrate a project that could be undertaken by a keen newcomer to the hobby, to produce a layout that is operationally satisfying with sufficient scenic detail to develop new modelling skills and occupy hours of leisure time but be completed within a realistic and attainable timescale. It so happened that we had recently acquired two new members who fitted that category, and were keen to tackle a new project from scratch. The brief was for a scheme 12 feet long by about 2 feet wide, a size we felt could be reasonably accommodated in the average home, and which conveniently broke down into three standard units. We also wanted the maximum amount of layout on view which dictated an integral ‘off-stage’ area contained within the layout footprint as opposed to an 'add-on' fiddle yard.

From the start, the intention was to use ready-made track partly for speed of construction (we were up against a tight schedule to have the layout ready for our Three Spires Railex show a mere seven months away) and also to keep within the criteria of the ‘keen beginner’s’ project. We decided quite early on to use Peco code 75 track with as large a radius pointwork as possible and to try, within the limitations of the track geometry, to maintain the ‘flow’ of the prototype. This is much easier to do when you build your own track, but we think we have achieved a reasonably realistic formation.

With the footprint decided, the search began for a suitable prototype on which to base the scheme. As a subject for ‘minimum space modelling’ the country branch station is probably one of the most unsuitable examples; rural stations were generally built on cheap land and as a result sprawled all over the place. In this respect, the urban environment is much more suited to our needs. But we all have a soft spot for the rural station and accepted the challenge to design something that represented a small country branch terminus but which was a little more ambitious than the basic ‘loop and two sidings’. Numerous ‘minimum space’ schemes have appeared in the model press over the years, many of them featuring some quite unprototypical track formations in the quest to get maximum operational interest. We looked at a wide range of smaller GWR termini to find something that fitted our criteria without looking unduly cramped and eventually settled on Tetbury as a basis to develop a track plan.

 

 





Of course the main drawback to the plan, like most rural stations, is its size; approximately 550 yards, over a third of a mile, from the bufferstops to the station throat. In 4mm this works out to around 21 feet! However selective compression has allowed us to incorporate all the main features, albeit with a severely shortened runround loop and goods sidings, and to include a carriage siding with a shed (from Watlington) opposite the passenger platform.



The other feature which attracted us to Tebury was the dramatic rock face behind the station where the hillside was cut back to make room for the railway. In modelling terms this feature represents a great space saver since relatively large pieces of landscape can be modelled in quite a confined space.

Although the track plan was copied as faithfully as space and track geometry allowed, we decided to use buildings from other sources which were more in scale with the reduced surroundings.



We also decided to base the location of the layout in our own 'patch' somewhere in southwest Cornwall, although the exact location is still somewhat vague! To this end, structures were modified to reflect the local building style of granite and 'killas' a low grade slate type of rock which occurs widely throughout Cornwall on the fringes of the granite uplands. The station building was based on one of William Clarke's classic designs which cropped up all over the GWR on absorbed lines where he was employed as engineer. The basic structure was based on Abbotsbury but with alterations to create a forecourt entrance and the lavatory block transposed to the opposite end.




The goods shed was also based on Abbotsbury but with the addition of a lean-to office. The locomotive shed was based on Wallingford, mainly because it had square (as opposed to arched) windows and by the time it was built time was pressing! The signal box is the standard Mackenzie & Holland design using the Ratio kit upper works but with a scratchbuilt base.

'Atmosphere' is difficult to define, let alone capture in a model. These selected images were all used in our researches to try to create an authentic feel to the project.


One of my favourite branch line pictures, Presteign in its final years with the thrice weekly goods


An evocative evening view of Buckfastleigh in pre-preservation days


Tetbury in the late 1940s - early 50s, capturing the essence of what we like to think the Great Western branch line was all about


We hope to be able to document the construction of this layout as it progresses towards its planned debut at Three Spires Railex in Truro in August, and we hope the following pictures with extended captions will give an indication of how much progress has been made in the last three months from bare baseboards.


Modelling Pictures to follow shortly

Edited by Andy Y
Images which breach copyright removed.
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This looks like a great project. I must agree with your comments about a "typical" GWR/WR branch. Can't wait to see the modelling pictures.

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Some initial images of the baseboards and early track laying (apologies for the tiny image size - entirely my fault with cocking up the resizing process! the later ones are bigger)

 

 

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The baseboards are very simple constructions of 125 x 25 softwood from a good timber merchants and 9mm birch ply surfaces. We support our local timber yard as experience has shown their wood products are much superior to the slightly cheaper alternatives from the big orange and white sheds on the Business Park. In tests we have found no other interim bracing to be neccesary and the baseboards are no heavier than other comparable all-ply versions.

 

 

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The basic plan was transferred onto cheap lining paper and the Peco printed templates used to position the turnouts. The track was then plotted on using bendy laths to achieve flowing curves

 

 

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Rough card shells were knocked up to try out different building styles

 

 

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The cassette deck will be concealed under a hillside which also has a lane sweeping down and over the bridge at the station throat. Retaining walls were made using DAS pressed into plaster moulds, a process we will describe in detail later on.

 

 

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The landscape was made up using card formers cut to the chosen profile and strips of thinner card hot-glued in place to create a mesh

 

 

 

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The mesh was then covered with several layers of Mod-roc plaster scrim to form the basic landforms

 

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The layout is being wired for conventional DC as most member's stock uses this system. The feeds are soldered to brass tags screwed to the baseboard which are clearly identified, Thick copper wire stripped from old electrical cable is used for the Common Returns from track feeds and point motors (Seep). Ken and Paul's neat and methodical approach to wiring is a lesson to us all!

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It has often been said in the model press that the GWR branch terminus is a hackneyed subject for a model and has been done to death.

 

Unless it's called Roseladden Wharf, of course ;)

 

Looks interesting Steve, will be watching this one.

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An interesting project and selection of prototypes for inspiration. The track plan has a nice flow to it and, as you have said, location of the goods yard and shunting arrangements is a bit different. The pictures of Tetbury show that's a steep hill behind the tracks: saves a backscene!

 

Do you have particular period you intend to model, GWR or WR and what train formations/stock do you propose?

 

Another GWR BLT, will be following this one...

 

Jon

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Looks like you have made a good start, shall look forward to seeing this develop.

 

Colin

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An evocative evening view of Buckfastleigh in pre-preservation day.

 

The gentleman on the platform would have been Mr Dick Dinwiddy, the last Stationmaster when the line closed and the first under preservation.

 

Looks an interesting project Steve. A lovely inspiring prototype.

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Looks like a great project Steve, looking forwards to seeing it in all it's glory in August.

 

Best of luck !

 

Stu

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Hi Steve,

 

Looking forward to seeing your layout take shape and thankyou for also taking the time to show how you went about your research. Can I ask what resourses you used in finding the original GWR station plans and just to say those photos are absolutely stunning.

 

ATB, Martyn.

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I like your choice of prototype inspiration. I thoroughly agree that the GWR BLT is ripe for revival.

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Hi Steve, Great little layout, i do love little back water stations on the GWR and cant wait to see your progress. :yes:

 

Chris

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A few shots of the station building as it has progressed The original at Abbotsbury was built in Purbeck stone, ours has been modified to reflect the local building stone of south-west Cornwall.

 

 

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William Clarke's pretty little design at Abbotsbury

 

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Painting the stonework in progress, more on construction methods to follow soon.

 

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The building assembled and ready for the roof. The stonework had not been weathered at this stage and still looks too 'painted'.

 

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Our version has been modified to include a rear entrance to the concourse and include a proper Booking Hall, the lavatory block was transposed to the opposite end, unfortunately I forgot to mirror the elevations so the lavatory windows have ended up at the wrong end of the wall. Architecturally it means the internal layout would be a bit different to the original, but I think it still works ok!

 

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The station from the approach road, there's still an awful lot to do between now and August!

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Really like the station building. Slightly OT, I had a wander along the footpath at Abbotsbury a few years ago, the platform remains although the station building has been replaced. The goods shed still exists, as did some of the walls for the engine shed that hadn't been used for donkeys years.

 

Looking forward to seeing the layout develop.

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Excellent project Steve, looking forward to seeing it. Tetbury was a delightful station thats been rarely modelled.

Congratulations on capturing the essence of it in such a short space!

 

All the best,

Dave.T

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Just a quick observation:

 

In the plan by Paul Karau, the crossover in the goods yard allows the goods shed to be bypassed when shunting.

 

On your plan the crossover is reversed which means you can only access the far end of the yard through the goods shed.

 

This would have serious implications on how you could shunt the yard

 

Is this a drawing error, or have you done it to deliberately make it more of a shunting puzzle?

 

Regards

 

Richard

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Just a quick observation:

 

In the plan by Paul Karau, the crossover in the goods yard allows the goods shed to be bypassed when shunting.

 

On your plan the crossover is reversed which means you can only access the far end of the yard through the goods shed.

 

This would have serious implications on how you could shunt the yard

 

Is this a drawing error, or have you done it to deliberately make it more of a shunting puzzle?

 

Regards

 

Richard

 

Well spotted Richard!, it is a drawing error (now corrected, phew!) the yard is pretty tiny compared to how it should be, but the advantage of having the end milk dock siding by the station building acting as a headshunt should mean the yard can be shunted independently of the running lines allowing for movement at all times - One Engine in Steam? - not likely!!

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Please think about dispensing with the trackside coal bins. They were extremely rare in the West Country and tie up areas of the goods yard unnecessarily. At least with the crossover reversed this wouldn't be such a liability, but leaving them where they are will spoil the "typical" nature of your design. If you must have the bins, place them away from the tracks, facing them, so that vehicle access is easy, but most branchline yards in the west wouldn't have anything at all, as per the Tetbury diagram and the photos.

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Thanks Nick, its a good point, coal 'staithes' are a bit of an old chestnut on layouts, most of the coal yards of my recollection were just heaps of graded coal which were shovelled into bags and weighed. It would be interesting to have some observations from people who remember traditional goods yards at work as to how the merchandise was dealt with. I suspect modellers often provide facilities that were way too lavish for the average country station. Paul Karau's superb two volume work on the Watlington Branch is quite illuminating on the day to day nitty gritty of working a rural branch line.

 

 

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Thanks Nick, its a good point, coal 'staithes' are a bit of an old chestnut on layouts, most of the coal yards of my recollection were just heaps of graded coal which were shovelled into bags and weighed. It would be interesting to have some observations from people who remember traditional goods yards at work as to how the merchandise was dealt with. I suspect modellers often provide facilities that were way too lavish for the average country station. Paul Karau's superb two volume work on the Watlington Branch is quite illuminating on the day to day nitty gritty of working a rural branch line.

 

 

 

I think we've been here before - or visited bits of it - on other threads. The main error modellers seem to make is to regard yard shunting as some sort of massive task which took hours whereas in reality smaller yards would only be shunted once or twice a day (mostly once at the vast majority) and the work would be done by the freight trip engine with any subsequent moving, say wagons in or out of a small goods shed, done by manpower using pinch bars or, at some much busier places. by a horse; capstans were used at the larger depots. Never overlook the fact that loco shunting power was the most expensive way of shunting a goods yard - everything else was much cheaper and men were cheaper than anything else; the railways didn't like to waste money.

The branch trip would usually set the yard to minimise any subsequent wagon movement - railway handled part (wagon) loads, known as 'smalls traffic', would go in the goods shed for unloading and sorting to road vehicles rounds and traffic off the rounds or smalls traffic brought in by customers would be dealt with as outwards traffic through the shed. In soem cases of course there wasn't even a goods shed and traffic would be unloaded at the station platform into a suitable lock-up while the train stood in the platform but this sort of working began to disappear from the 1930s onwards.

Wagons containing full loads for a single customer would normally be dealt with on a road outside the shed unless it was 'vulnerable' - which meant liable to damage or in some cases to weather damage or possibly pilferage (although pilferage was as big a problem in sheds as outside them). And obviously and cranage traffic would be spotted as near as possible to the crane (if there was one) to make it easier to position exactly later. Coal merchants normally had what was called 'fixed space' allocated to their use in a specified part of the yard and they paid a rent on that hence coal class traffic would usually be dealt with in the same place and as far as possible away from everything else because of the dust and mess. Most coal merchants are best described as 'wily businessmen' and wouldn't be likely to do anything which cost money if they could avoid it - this meant keeping wagons underload until they needed the coal, putting as little as possible to ground to avoid double-handling and handling damage and just using stacks/heaps if they could getaway without the need for more sophisticated storage methods. Where the was plenty of space, as at most country stations, coal was usually heaped a;though sometimes something would be needed to separate different grades/types of fuel.

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Speaking of operation, I've just come accross a film on Youtube of operation on the Tetbury branch http://www.youtube.c...h?v=WJxU4UZ2EDg

It shows some shunting at Tebury, and film of the pioneer diesel Railbuses, cab-view during a trip down the branch, and the miniscule ground-level halts introduced along with the railbuses to stimulate traffic.

Also includes views of Kemble and the Cirencester branch.

 

Having said Tetbury has rarely been modelled, there was an excellent layout in Railway Modeller for May 1971, featuring Tetbury and the mainline junction at Kemble.

 

cheers,

Dave.

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Hi

 

I really like the look of your layout. I agree that the great western branchlines are a great and quite diverse subject to model. What period are you modelling? Am I right in saying that the station building is painted in GW light and dark stone? This colour scheme could of course have lasted well into the fifties...

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I too like the look of Trenance and the way in which you are freelancing Tetbury and transposing it to Cornwall. The Clarke buildings are also a nice idea.

 

One point I would make is that the layout at Tetbury was designed for operation by mixed trains, as is illustrated by the Youtube clip. A lot of GWR BLTs were - Wallingford and Marlow being other examples. This does of course make operation rather more interesting as there is more to do than simply drive in a passenger, run round and then take it out again - unless you're going for push pull operation, which would be even more monotonous.

 

The Youtube clip also shows how rough riding those 4 wheel railcars were. I never rode on one in this country, but did once on a German branch. It was excrutiatingly uncomfortable, made worse by being very hot and crowded - standing room only, I recall.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing progress on Trenance.

 

All the best

 

David C

(Another GWR BLT builder!)

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Thanks for those useful observations. The period modelled will be the 'classic' mid 1930's although probably just into the 'shirtbutton' era so we get a reasonable diversity of rolling stock and liveries. As for research, we can do no more than recommend the standard branch line books 'Great Western Branch Line Terminii' by Paul Karau (OPC 1977 - 78) 'Great Western Branch Lines 1955-65' C.J. Gammell (OPC 1975). The Tetbury Branch, Stephen Randolph (1985) has been of particular use (obviously!) these may well be out of print now, but can be picked up on Amazon. The range of GWR branch line histories by Wild Swan are exemplary, particularly the 'Country Branch Line - an intimate portrait of the Watlington Branch' by Paul Karau & Chris Turner which provides a very detailed and intensely researched account of an otherwise unremakable bit of railway, but which stands as a tribute to the hundreds of its kind which have gone unrecorded. The series of three books 'Great Western Branch Line Modelling' by Stephen Williams (Wild Swan 1992 -3) is indispensable to anyone considering a GWR branch project.

 

 

A few shots of activity from a recent Club session

 

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Testing Testing! the layout set up and under power for the first time

 

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A glimpse under the hillside concealing the cassette deck, the basketwork of card strips is a cheap and simple method of building landforms.

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Lovely Clarke buildings, we have them too on the Kingsbridge branch and you have caught the look of them very well. Is your method the "Pendon" way? I ask because I am looking at ways to make my station building. Look forward to the method post when it arrives.

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Here are a few shots of the basic construction process for the buildings. In answer to Devondynosaur's query the general method follows that used at Pendon, developed by Roye England in the 1930's and refined by himself and others to create the exquisite examples to be seen at the Pendon Museum today. I am not going to elaborate on the techniques because they have been well covered in several publications; most notably 'Cottage Modelling for Pendon' by Chris Pilton (Wild Swan 1987) and the third volume of 'Great Western Branch Line Modelling' by Stephen Williams (Wild Swan 1993). The series 'Roye England's Modelling Notebooks' in MRJ issues 125 to 134 give fascinating glimpses into the extraordianary lengths he went to develop his methods, often using the simplest of household materials and quality watercolour paints. Stephen Williams also published an extensive series of articles on making buildings using the 'Pendon Method' in the long-missed Model Railway Constructor 1981 -2 which are well worth hunting out.

 

 

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The building here is the engine shed, an amalgam of Wallingford (for its windows and general dimensions) with a touch of St. Ives! Good quality stiff white card is the base, about 0.55mm or 550microns thick. The elevations are drawn out to scale in fine lines, the windows and doors cut out with a new scalpel and steel edge, and the stonework embossed with a blunt steel point such as an old scriber or compass. Note the reveals to the main doorway are incorporated in the elevation. These will be reverse scored and folded back later to represent the thickness of the front wall.

 

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The scribed card is washed with a thin mix of yellow ochre and ivory black to give a base mortar colour. The stones are then painted using appropriate blends of watercolour, which for our area are primarily Raw Umber; Raw Sienna; Yellow Ochre; Burnt Umber and Ivory Black (Charcoal Grey seems to be unobtainable these days) and Chinese White. It is not as long winded or as tedious as you might think, and with Radio 4 and a decent Shiraz can be very theraputic! the loco shed walls took about 5 hours including the granite window and corner dressings and the lean-to Mess Room, but only three main walls are actually seen so the back was not modelled.

 

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The walls painted but not weathered. The plinth at the base of the building is put on later after assembly.

 

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I make windows using self-adhesive labels. It is reasonably straightforward provided you assemble a few vital tools, and remarkably inexpensive. I find the 4" steel square and the small setsquare indispensible for keeping everything straight and parallel. A new blade in the scalpel is also vital. It may need a few goes to get the knack of marking and cutting very fine lines, but is worth persevering.

 

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The label is stuck to a piece of fairly thick clear plastic and the window aperture marked through, I use a 0.3mm technical pencil with a 2H lead.

 

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The marked shape is set up on a cutting mat using the steel square to get it horizontal to the base line.

 

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Using the set square and steel square together, the window frame is drawn in. I find in 4mm scale that the thickness of the tubular pencil holder against the straight edge, with the edge exactly on the original pencil line automatically produces about 0.6mm gap which is enough for most window frames. The rectangle is divided by drawing diagonals and vertical and horizontal lines which can then be further sub-divided by more diagonals to plot the position of the glazing bars. However if the bars are not set out centrally, you need to measure very accurately to establish the verticals.

 

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The glazing bars are cut as close as possible either side of the centre lines. Again, positioning the straightedge on the line and using the thickness of the blade seems to produce a fairly fine strip. I cut right through the joins, generally this does not give problems, but occasionally a tiny square of paper between the intersections lifts out, this can either be pressed back if you spot it, or touched in with paint later.

 

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The moment of truth! the blanks are carefully peeled away.

 

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The window nearing completion.

 

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The set for the engine shed, the best ones were selected for the front, the others were used on the side the Public don't see!

 

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The windows installed. I have never seen a definition for a colour scheme for GWR iron windows, generally window frames were painted white where glazing was fixed, but photographic evidence suggests a darker colour was used on metal windows. I painted these Light Stone which looks OK to me but I wait to be corrected! Of course it would have been much easier to paint the label before cutting out........

 

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The loco shed assembled and weathered. An inner wall has been added with 4mm wide card reveals to represent the thickness of the wall around the windows. The card for this wall was marked out before assembly using the main wall as the template.

 

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The plinth was added using 1.25mm card with the top edge cut to a bevel. The strip was scored and folded to check for a good fit before the stonework was embossed. Bargeboards and fascias were added in 0.3mm card pre-painted and cut into 3mm strips. These were glued to 0.5mm card strips fixed to the walls to act as spacers to make the boards stand off the walls. The guttering will be added before a card under-roof is fitted and the slates laid.

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