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Pont-y-dulais (Dulais Bridge with apologies)


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  • 2 weeks later...

The new South Wales coal micro layout has been progressing alongside Mollington Road over the Easter weekend and has provided a welcome and positive distraction...

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The first stage after basic construction was to add some lighting - this layout sits in a dark spot above my bench, and so integral lighting is essential if it's to be used. I invested in 5m of LED flexible strip for East Works, and impressed by it's colour intensity on that layout I decided it would work here too, my only concern being whether a single strip would give adequate lighting without backscene shadows. On East Works I used a strip along the front, and towards the back, to eliminate the shadows from trees - the narrow and low height of the scene here won't allow that.

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A quick mock up showed it worked well, so the strip was cut and glued to the front inside edge, allowing it to bounce off the rear and roof to provide a good spread of light. Whilst not cheap, these natural white LEDs are much better than others I've seen - the distance and spacing of them suits model railways, and doesn't leave too much glare on rail heads.

The next thing that needed solving was point control. As there is no 'underside' to the baseboard, this all needed to be on the surface and as it was only an 'experiment' I didn't want to install expensive servo or slow motion surface mounts - not that it would have been easy anyway - so I adopted a two pronged attack. The uniforms were wired to momentary toggle switches - this means if I'm running longer wheel base or compensated locos I don't need to use them, but with the short 0-4-0s (Hornby and Hattons) as well as the DJM Austerity I can flick and hold the switch to ensure a smooth transition over the frog. 

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In order to operate them I originally planned just a finger or a little stub on the end of my uncoupler bar for the tie-bar but figured this might end up damaging things, so instead built a very simple wire in tube. This is 0.9mm brass wire in styrene tube - now covered where exposed by card and paper before I do the scenery proper. They're dead dead simple, but on a small layout very effective. What have I learnt already? That these Bull-head points, whilst visually lovely, have a couple of annoying traits... they're more flimsy, and despite being laid on a totally flat board I think there is a little flex in them so they're not totally flat. The blades aren't totally flat eigher a the toe, so that locos jump a little as they drive on to them. They also definitely need frog wiring - the dead frog area is large, and even though the Bachmann Pannier's I've tried have no problems pretty much everything shorter than that does... for the price I'd have expected more - and these days why a small mechanical frog switching mechanism could easily be included in the box to be  mounted alongside or underneath. 

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Since then I've done some testing, whilst waiting on the backscne and some suitable materials for the stone overbridge and undergrowth. I had some 'views' in mind when I placed the structures and track plan and it's nice to see what these look like, even with just mock up structures. Behind the shed a small road will cross the branch, giving views of the engine as it shunts the sidings...

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There should also be a view from the over bridge of the mouth of the yard, allowing shots of locos like this as if viewed in person. The beauty of the layout being above the bench is it's viewing height is very natural - these views are easily achieved without any bending or contorting. 

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The shed area will lend itself to any industrial setting - I suspect Pride of Gwent will be a regular on the board - it's lovely smooth runner and negotiates the dead uni frogs most of the time. I've got cars suiting both the 1960s, 70s and here 80s to allow a ring of the changes. I plan to begin on the shed structure today too...

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Finally, a shot of the bridge, this will be done in Will's Coarse stone as I like it's relief, and will use the Peco girder shortened to fit. Here my Golden Valley / Oxford Rail Janus, another smooth runner that occasionally hesitates on the uni-frogs, is in action. Despite being fitted with Kadees (as the large holes in the buffer beams don't come with blanking plates I fitted Kadees before I'd settled on 3 links on everything else) I managed some shunting by using the wagon couplings on the hook on the chassis. So it's been a productive few days, and will look forward to more when I add the backscene next. Until then, more soon...

 

Edited by James Hilton
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This looks rather nice James. Already has a certain 'look' of the South Wales area. The girder bridge is very Mountain Ash. 

 

Top stuff. 

 

Rob. 

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  • 2 months later...

I've been taking the chance this weekend to move on the scenic side of the coal inspired micro Pont-y-dulais, with little jobs that are difficult to fit around commission work...

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The over bridge was ready to be planted so the first step was to paint the tracks - the sleepers were painted with a mix of Humbrol 33 and 98, and the rails had some matt orange (I forget the number) mixed in. Once dry the ballast was added under the bridge, or where the bridge would go - In this case I've wanted to try and model with a different palette to my usual summer bleached hot day, and so I'm aiming for a wet Welsh early summer, lots of lush green, dark cinder ballast and an overcast but bright sky...

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I use Woodland Scenics fine ballast, this time cinders, and decant it with an old dice shaker, gently tapping it on either a finger, or the rail head, to drop the right amount between the sleepers, avoiding the sleepers themselves. An old brush is used to tamp the ballast into place, and clear up stray grains. 

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Woodland Scenics pre-mixed 'Scenic Cement' is used with an eye dropper to secure the ballast. This is done by dropping along the edges, and letting it soak in with capillary action and then adding more to the wet areas until the whole area is soaked. Leave to dry for 24 hours then, as it's still movable until totally set...

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The bridge was placed in, and any gaps along the base extra ballast was added and it was glued in place. Some filler was then mixed and applied with just a normal knife over the plaster bandage smoothing it and filling the holes - as well as butting right up to the bridge, careful not to get any stray filler on the plastic stonework. If you work carefully you can get a nice effect without any obvious knife marks.

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The surface was then painted with emulsion once the filler was dry, my current favourite is 'CHESTER' by B&Q, and then more ballast was applied at this end of the layout allowing the photo above. The damage to the back scene should be less visible once the greenery, shrubs and trees are planted shortly.

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Finally, the other end of the layout isn't quite as advanced. The base of the engine shed is being built up, and the road area will need to be smoothed and turned into a road with 'smooth-it' and the crossing being added. The back scene looks a little wrinkled here, but it's ok when under ti's own layout lighting. Next up will be the basic paint and ballasting at this end before some greenery and ground cover can go down. More soon...

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The small South Wales micro OO layout I've been building has been sat dormant for a few weeks since I last pushed on with the foundation of the scenery. I decided to spend some time on it yesterday and made a few hours of progress...

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The layout is only short, and quite narrow too, so it's not got a lot of depth but I was keen to try and get some visual depth by careful attention to the scenery. I've been reading and absorbing South Wales coal branch line photographs, especially Gordon Edgar's volume on Wales, as I was keen to capture the colours and textures of a summers day, lush green (it always rains right?) and overcast sky - but bright...

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The Peckett shown here is very much a work in progress - it's been repainted, the cab slightly modified and some 3 links fitted - but it's far to clean and presentable. However it's looking the part in these photos.

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The first step was to use Woodland Scenics 'earth blend' fine turf applied over dilute PVA painted straight onto the green areas. Then some mid-green coarse turf was applied to give some variation on texture. This was secured with Woodland Scenics scenic cement with an eye dropper. Then a mix of fibres, picked for the lush colours, were applied - all short 1-2mm initially. After the first layer I used Peco layering spray before adding more coatings.

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The tree line and bushes are recycled from the childhood layout - this was a Woodland Scenics forest in a box, with white metal armatures. They were largely all the same colour and texture so I refreshed them by breaking and cutting them into more random shapes before applying the layering spray and adding Green Scenes foliage of different shades (recommended by Gordon Gravett's book).

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The result is a nice variation in texture, that contrasts well with the stock and the dark ballast. Next up I need to work out if I'm adding telegraph poles and the like, before adding some greenery to the front edge and tackling the yard surface. However, before all that the layout's left hand end needs some attention - I'm building an occupation crossing before blending this into the yard, and then adding the greenery at that end. The shed also needs more attention. This was built quickly on Saturday morning, although time was taken to match brickwork on the edges and carve the bricks round the corners. The back of the shed will be portrayed as rebuilt in concrete breeze blocks, as if at some point a loco ran away and crashed through the back wall, causing a rebuild. 

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It's been nice working on my own project, but I do love designing and building layouts on commission too - so do get in touch if you're interested in having a fully scenic micro or small layout building to your requirements. More soon...

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After writing the previous post I've been working on the layout again today, and now it's packed away again ready for work on Monday I just wanted to share a few photos of progress...

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The focus has been on the left hand end of the layout really. I had wanted to capture the look of an occupation crossing behind the shed... I didn't know exactly what I was aiming for, but by adding elements one by one I'm happy with the composition. There is a photo on Gordon Edgar's site which I wanted to evoke here - and there are some metal gates to hang on the posts - as well as a little more fencing to add in. The road surface and yard surface has caused me a headache - but I think I have a way forward. I did try ash from the fire on wet paint, but it didn't work. I've ordered some sieves and chinchilla dust as per Gordon Gravett's advice for unmetalled surfaces. We'll see, I suspect, as his techniques work well on roads, that this will also be the way forward.

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The new greenery seems to have made the layout smaller, but it's perfectly formed and just as I had in my mind's eye - it's only a small gap above the workbench after all. It's like looking at a photo...

At the other end of the layout I added the first layer of grass and weeds to the front embankment and end of the yard. I've also placed two Ratio telegraph poles, I think hey work well in these positions and don't cause any awkward shadows... I think the yard needs some clutter, nothing cliche'd but perhaps these building materials may be painted and weathered. I'll study some more photos for inspiration. In the meantime, it will be lovely to look at a much more finished scene between commissions. The next push needs to be the shed, and that can be easily done during the week so I may do a little more on that soon. I hope everyone's weekend has been as relaxing as mine... it's been a real pleasure to relax with Beth Rowley on the stereo, windows open, surrounded by scenic materials and working without interruption... as well as fitting in a few dog walks with the family, and teaching the kids to paint still life fruit! More soon...

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Full size photos can be seen on my blog: http://paxton-road.blogspot.co.uk

Edited by James Hilton
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When I set out to build Pont-y-dulais I had two views in mind, the right hand side with the coal wagons marshalled under a road over bridge, and the left hand side with a road crossing a single track line behind an engine shed...

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These views were inspired by Gordon Edgar's photos and those in his book, of the various South Wales NCB lines in the 1960s and 1970s. I sketched out my initial concept, before starting, and it's been the steering force towards this goal that has kept progress coming.

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This weekend I've been working on the texture of the yard, I tried using Gordon Gravett's technique of chinchilla dust over Humbrol gloss paint - it didn't have the colour or texture I'd hoped for - I washed over it with Games Workshop Nuln oil wash, and let it dry. Whilst thinking things over I decided to stipple in some of the 'Chester' brown soil emulsion paint into the edges...  

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...this looked promising so I kept at it over the whole yard. It took on more of the muddy stony appearance I was after - it needs some weeds, spilt coal, other detritus here and there, but it's come on enough to feel like it was worth the continue experimenting. This colour palette is a new one for me, I'm much more comfortable with the colours I've used on my summer scenes in 009 and 006.5.

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As well as the ground cover I've pushed on with the shed. I added a mortar wash to the brick work, and painted the interior in the same colour (so the brickwork inside looks white washed). The doors were then painted in matt green. The breeze blocks were painted with a mix of Humbrol 72 and 64, and dusted with talc. The roof was painted with mix of Humbrol 64 and 53 (gun metal), and the ends of the roof timbers painted in matt black. The bricks were then dry brushed and a few individually painted in Matt 70. It needs some weathering now, but also some glazing, and possible a knackered old drain pipe!

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Finally, the scene behind the engine shed was worked up further with the gates being planted, some extra awning added (see top photo) and some signs planted. The fencing is all painted dark brown (Matt 98). The gates are not white, but Matt 28. Hopefully the shed will be finished soon so I can bed it into the ground surface and hide the edges, and I need to add some more variation in the grass and bushes along the fence lines in this area. I hope you've all had a good weekend. More soon...

 

 

Edited by James Hilton
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This is really nice, James. 

 

Top modelling.  

 

Rob. 

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I've got a couple of Adrian Booth's books on Industrial Railway Engines Sheds from the Industrial Railway Society, and it seemed that most sheds that had a steam occupant would have an accompanying coal supply and ash pile...

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How to go about it though? Anyone who has attempted a 'pile' of a loose material in 4mm scale will know that it just doesn't look natural, and wants to adopt a flatter appearance. However, I'm not sure if I've read about this before but it occurred to me that perhaps a 'former' was the answer. I'd seen someone building a Canadian layout on Facebook using foam as a core for a large pile of ballast - however not having any to hand I found a new packet of DAS clay and thought it might be just the thing.

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The clay was pinched off the block and formed into suitable shapes, placed on a piece of glass from a clip frame to allow the bottom to be feathered to the ground. The coal pile by the engine shed was formed with a 90 degree internal corner so it could form around the shed in a natural heap.

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Once dry they were painted with Humbrol enamels, 33 for the coal and 64 for the ash. These were left to dry, and then neat PVA was applied thinly to each heap. Hattons fine coal was applied to the coal heap, and seized ash from our coal fire used on the ash heap (which looks a touch too yellow I think, but it's a real coal ash!). This was tamped down with a finger. When dry the piles were pealed off the glass and glued in place on the layout, and extra coal and ash placed on the piles and secured with Woodland Scenics scenic cement to blend them into the ground.

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The result is pretty convincing and another neat finishing touch to the layout. Next up will be finishing off the engine shed, broken gutter and some interior detail, smoke vent and some weathering. I hope this technique may help others. More soon...

 

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Dave it’s all here - I’ve explained the back of the shed is breeze block because of a run away in the past... (Pontarddulaus also has a breeze block back to the shed). The blocks are scribed in an overlay of styrene but they’re quite subtle. More so than bricks and mortar.

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  • 3 months later...
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Only just discovered this thread, James. What a gorgeous little layout. Very inspiring too, maybe leading me to something heinous and totally unauthorised that's been buzzing around in my thoughts for a couple of weeks, albeit I want to do something in P4, because I can't keep Callow Lane set up at home for very long.

 

Edited by Captain Kernow
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Evening James. 

 

I hope you won't mind but I post the attached image from your splendid blog. 

Really fancy one of these.  Is this conversion kit now available? 

 

Rob. 

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Edited by NHY 581
Sausage hooves.
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10 minutes ago, Mick Bonwick said:

Thanks Mick. 

 

Yes, very nice. That's the other one I would like but I fancy the cut down cab jobbie. 

 

Rob. 

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I'm working in the basis that it's  this version  ( on the left of the photo) that's on the way, Tim. The version the right is the one sold out.  

 

 

Rob. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Captain Kernow said:

It says 'Sold Out' on the website, does this actually mean 'not yet on sale?'

 

 

1 hour ago, NHY 581 said:

I'm working in the basis that it's  this version  ( on the left of the photo) that's on the way, Tim. The version the right is the one sold out.  

 

 

Rob. 

 

 

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Rob is correct here - the version on the right in the photo is the one on the website, the initial batches of this have sold through but we have more on the way. The dropped-cab "B" version on the left is the next one to be released.

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To take us back to the layout, here is the ‘to be released’ cut down Peckett on shed...

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In terms of Pi, we should have the first Peckett cab conversion back in stock again soon, the next kit is actually the Pensnett cab for the Hattons Barclay, then it will be the cut down Peckett.

 

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