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Foster Street (Its Grim Up North)


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Would anybody be interested in the development and building of my current N gauge layout, as it draws closer its possible first exhibition appearance (hopefully not it last?).


Just to make things more difficult for myself, they layout is set in the final years of the LMS, so if anyone wants to share in my problems/frustrations and general chaos of construction let me know, and this may not be the only entry on this string :)

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From another northern n gauge final years of LMS, I'd love to see more.


Especially if you know what size transfers I should get for my BR jinty and 4F that are currently plain black :)

I must admit from my experience you can't beat the excellent Fox Transfer's range and the service they provide to you. They really are brilliant all you have to do is give them a call and they have them off to you in the same days post. The hardest thing you have to do is to decide the style of

letting you want.


The standard sheets even come with numbers suitable to tank and tender engines so the size problem is not an issue, .I recently numbered a few loco's one of which happened to be a 4F and one a Jinty, I will try and attach the pictures to this thread


There were numerous styles used by the LMS so like most things nothing is simple :)




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Definitely! I model ex-LMS territory in N (and still run a Duchess+8 in LMS livery!) and my Dad's layout is OO LMS so we'd love to see how yours looks and runs...




David, I'm glad to see that I'm not the only LMS fan out there, as for Duchess locomotives, I must admit they are one of my favourites (I have nearly as many 3 rail one's as there was real ones built) for N gauge I have restricted myself to two (for mow :))



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Well my original idea criteria for the layout were as follows


1. Portable, initially this was not with exhibitions in mind, but more importantly to allow the layout to be moved when visitors turn up and the spare room is needed for guests.

2. To be no longer that 11 feet long and 3 feet wide, so as to provide a reasonable space to model, but also stand a chance on completion.

3. To be set in an urban area, as I like Terrace houses and industrial sprawl.

4. To NOT have any BR liveried stock, for two reasons, firstly because it means I can't just pick things off the shelf and secondly because I never take the easy option.

5. To allow some shunting, and additional movement, but to have track for the sake of track.

6. To try a new form of baseboard construction (for me at least) that did not involve my usual chipboard tops and 4x2 frames.

7. To scratch build as mush as possible, but to use a new material to me (card/brick papers), in an attempt to capture realism


So I started on my project so show a slice of the world somewhere up north (Lancashire) in the years up to 1948...........

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I must admit from my experience you can't beat the excellent Fox Transfer's range and the service they provide to you. They really are brilliant all you have to do is give them a call and they have them off to you in the same days post. The hardest thing you have to do is to decide the style of

letting you want.


The standard sheets even come with numbers suitable to tank and tender engines so the size problem is not an issue, .I recently numbered a few loco's one of which happened to be a 4F and one a Jinty, I will try and attach the pictures to this thread


There were numerous styles used by the LMS so like most things nothing is simple :)

Fox appear to list the transfers by height of lettering (in real life) which is where I get confused, can you remember which one you ordered?

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Fox appear to list the transfers by height of lettering (in real life) which is where I get confused, can you remember which one you ordered?

Just checked and the last transfers I used where ref FRH2230, I would still recommend giving them a call, they really are very helpful, let them know what locomotives you are working on they provide great advice.
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The baseboard construction, took a radical step from my usual approach, but for some of you on here may still appear old hat. I used 9mm ply to construct three identically sized bases, and not a single piece of timber in sight, at least at first anyway,



As the layout is made up of 3 boards, the centre one was designed to have 2 legs that slot into channels through with the locate, which are the secured with bolts that also help with alignment and hold the boards together. The other tow boards have one set of legs each (4 sets constructed in total) and piggy back on the central one. Easier to show via a picture which I keep having problems downloading than to explain. :)

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The track is laid onto cork to not only hopefully reduce running noise but also to help me create a nice profile to the ballast (is it just me of is ballasting track an job that is equal to watching your toe nails grow?)


Track in standard Peco, no fine scale here (I can hear the boo's now) but I think if it is laid correctly and ballasting and painted well is certainly passes muster, from at least a distance.


The track plan is a simple one, as I wanted to portray a typical secondary line passing though a typical northwest industrial town, two simple ovals is a good staring point. Being me though I decided to add a little interest by adding a branch line (or at least an indication of one) running into a bay. To make things even more complex I deliberately omitted a run-round loop as this would allow more shunting and also help justify a push-pull train.

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Just before I finally go to bed (its been a very long day) I thought someone may be interested in one of those before and after comparison things (you can guess what railway books I have been reading lately)


Still a lot to be done, and it still looks pretty empty, in need of more clutter??



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Like I said earlier, the aim of the layout is to represent an average station on a secondary main line somewhere in the Northwest of England, which I originally thought would mean lots of terraced houses and industrial sprawl. To make it a little more difficult for myself, all this was to be contained on boards no more than 3ft wide, including fiddle yard. Oh and just for fun I decided that everything should be scratch built or at least be very, very, very modified.


I also then decided to ditch my tried and trusted plasti-card and use what I considered to be very old fashioned "cardboard". As a result I have asked myself the question "What have I let myself in for" many many times.

After a little testing I found that the same approach I used for constructing buildings with plastic, works just as well I hope with card (as long as its well braced). I like to build the detail up by using layers of card so as my station buildings are supposed to be constructed of wood I had lots of planks to scribe on the initial layers.
Initially the basis form of the Station buildings looked okay when placed on the platforms, so as the two units were to be joined by the roof/canopy I glued the initial roof support to them, once I had decided on the length.
My attention then turned to the roofs a few hours with the Stanley knifes and the basic roof profiles was finalised and to my eyes looked passable. You can also see the build up of layers in an attempt to portray a timber framed building, typical of those inherited by the LMS, all I need to do is think about finishing in a slightly down trodden but well maintained look. 
Roof slates and flasings were added using pre-printed card and good quality cartridge paper and slots cut to allow the chimneys to be fitted

Once I got to this stage I decided to leave the buildings in this up-painted stage until I got use to them, am I the only person who does this?

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Once a little paint was slapped on the buildings started to look how I intended them to be, but I was careful to ensure that I used "washed out" tones
A little time with the paintbrushes and the buildings were transformed, all I have to now is build all the windows, a job I am still trying to complete :)

Again I spent a few days with the buildings in the painted state before I decided to add any more detail and up to now I have not
decided to scrap them and start again, but time will tell?
On a slightly different tangent, am I the only one who uses things like track and stock and cereal boxes to help plan out the layout? I like making lists and drawings but I must admit I have more fun and success actually moving things about????




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Liking the station building; I used an old Prototype cardboard kit for mine and cut-and-shut the panels to make the right sized unit!


And yes, I used all sorts of things to plan out my layout, mainly as I've never been able to successfully use layout designing software!  Nothing quite like seeing it 'in the flesh' so to speak to get an eye for what looks 'right'...


Some slightly larger and clearer pictures might be useful if possible; if you upload them straight into the post it might help a bit too...


Looking good!





David thanks for the nice comments bout the progress of the layout, and the remarks about the photo's, one day I may master the black arts of

photography and downloading :)


Its good to hear we share the same planning (playing) technique I use, its good to know I can use the defence "well other people do it this way too"

Looking good and keep us updated.

Not a problem, I will keep the updates coming

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My layout is a continuous run affair (I can hear people crying not another roundy roundy from here), as I have said previously it is made up of 3 boards of equal size.
Board 1, when seen from the viewing side, has the running lines entering the scene, from under a tunnel (not very original I know), but I had a stunning idea to make it look different, I was going to have a road run over the tunnel entrance, of a rising incline. I know my ground breaking announcement may have shocked you, but brace yourself I then thought I would add a row of terrace houses on top of this too following the incline, I know it was almost too much for my mind to take in at first too.
I then opened the first model magazine to hand and I had noticed someone had stole my idea, the plagiarist!!!!! Not giving up I pressed on, with the work, armed with trusty ply off couts I set about building the supports for this.
Flushed with success I even thought I would add further visual interest by adding a road over bridge at a jaunty angle as well (I got a little carried away). Once these formers were finalised I rushed ahead and permanently fixed them to the baseboard.

The first thing to do was to create the base the terraces would sit on, with a stepped format that would match the incline, a little work with the old card, and some industrial language and the job was soon completed
The next thing to do was to start cutting out the house fronts, yes building the houses end on would have been easier, but that would be boring?
Foolishly I thought using card and brick paper would be quick and easy, and after an absolute age I had the basics of my property empire ready to install?
Ignoring all the details I had yet to fit, drain pipes, cills, windows, doors roofs etc, I was happy with the progress so flushed with endless reserves of smugness I added the basic roofs.
Then I got bored and decided to fiddle with some locomotives.....................




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One of my pet hates, is a lack of weathering, I like models in a pristine finish (I'm still a big kid at heart :)) but I am still a big fan of mice weathered models. I know its a sticky subject and there are many modellers out there who are far  greater at it then I will ever be, and their work is truly amazing.


However what does annoy me is that factory look, where one colour is just sprayed on a model as if it has just passed through a puddle of mud, trust me I know about these things at the age of 38 I still occasionally jump in puddle when I am out, if only to annoy the other half.


Anyway to weather my loco's I use the good old Humbrol enamel applied with an old fashioned thing called a paintbrush, I envy those who have airbrushes but I think the mess I create at the moment takes enough time to clean up.


As always less is always more, so I work in stages which can be spread over several days/weeks and initially I paint the smoke box, running plate and cab roof at the very least dirty black (matt black with some matt grey added) it amazing how this can even improve a model. One of may favourite locomotives is the Stannier Jubilee especially in Maroon so full of courage I set about making one of my fleet look slightly used.

From the books I have and the pictures available on the net, it's amazing how even some top link engines got dirty, so a workhorse like a Jubilee would at least need the attention of an oily rag.
All this is achieved with just a paintbrush, a limited palette of colours (matt black, matt grey and a brown/tan colour) and the paint applied using the dry brush method.
Overall I am pleased with the results, I think if you view them from a distance, face the other way and close your eyes they look even better, though I have found its mentally harder for me to weather a maroon loco than it is a black one. you should see what I have done to some of my 4F's................................................






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The are various LMS locomotives I have a soft spot for, one of which is the 4F, so much so that my N gauge collection includes 5 examples, all of which have been weathered to some extent and have had alterations to improved the Farish, stretched Fowler tenders. Unless anyone wants any greater
details of the modifications here are two simple pictures of the fleet





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On board one, there was a triangular shaped area created, as a result of two roads running towards a junction. I has thought I was being clever by having the to road that crosses the main lines at a angle that was not 90-degrees to the main road (easy to see what I mean in a photo, not so easy to describe :()

You can also see one of may favoured methods of constructing buildings and stuff on my layout, good old fashioned ply formers. Anyway this strange shaped area used up a lot of valuable arm chair modelling time, as I thought of various options for the area, I considered, a School, allotments, scrap yard (I was watching vintage Steptoe at the time), a Factory, a garage, a bus company.


All of these ideas had some merit, but then I threw the ideas into the modelling bin of my mind, and then inspiration hit me, what is the north-west famous for, well to narrow it down a bit, "Black pudding". Well really it was not inspiration, probably more like indigestion as I had just finished off some black pudding on toast. However the idea did have some advantages, it would provide some visual interest and it would need some animal pens, and it could generate some traffic in the form of cattle wagons.


Armed with card and brick paper I set to work creating "Morgan's Meats" the local abattoir and butcher, so the area was made ready by adding a flat sub-base for the building to stand on

making a basic template with some paper, I could work out the size of the main building and the animal pens, a little work and I crated the basic shape to represent a concrete built structure, or a rendered brick one.
Work soon progressed to the building, which would have the raw product (I have a theory that cute animals taste nicer?) delivered and accessing the building through a door/gate at the rear, and then the finished product despatched from near the front of the building.
Just to add a little visual interest and because I like this type of this I added a canopy over the front of the building and an interesting roof profile to my eyes at least, with windows similar to a "North light" engine shed.
When test fitted on the layout the building fitted well, the benefit of creating the template first (sometimes I have the occasional good idea), so I all I needed to do was to add the finer details (drainpipes etc) name boards and add some greenery to the surrounding area.







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What's all that western muck? :P



Just so that comment makes sense - my brother does 2mm fine scale GWR while I do LMS...

Like I said I had a bump on the head and the result was I obtained a GWR loco, then another, and another, and another, and another........



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Mark this day, in your logs, my layout finally has a name, the station is called Forster Street, in a craze of sign production I even added the relevant sign to the Goods Warehouse, I'm not sure how long this may stay attached, as I may have a change of heart over the station name........ 




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As Foster street has a branch connection to the town of Maherston, I had to put some thought into the type of service that would trundle up and down the branch. I have always like the LMS push pull formations, so I intended to build a 2 car set (still to do). My initial thoughts were to use one of my Ivatt tanks for this duty, but whilst reading LMS 150 I stumbled across a picture of a Johnsonn 1P 0-4-4T.

In my secret collection of locomotives of the companies which should not be mentioned (GWR & SR) I have a few M7's and I got to thinking, at the very least I have a ready made chassis I could use, and maybe the body would only need a little conversion.


Making a basic list, I worked out that at the very least I need to produce a new dome and reposition it, work on the cab to make it look for Midland, build and fit a new firebox, work on the bunker shape and the front wheel splashers. Easy I thought, how had could it be...........

The first thing to do was to create a new dome, so building a cube from layers of plasti-card I fitted this in a mandrill and with the aid of my mini drill turned what I thought was a reasonable dome.
The process took a couple of attempts as there seemed to be numerous different ones attached to the real machines, as I managed to find various photo's each with a different dome
Once I was happy with the shape, it was soon fitted to the boiler and any gaps filled with model filler, which once sanded smooth made a very good join.
Making the new firebox was relatively easy and quick the hard bit was cutting the correct amount of boiler away and removing a similar amount from the cast weight inside, but again with my trusty mini-drill this was a quick job.
Once this was done, the rest of the jobs, like altering the cab and the front splashers was relatively easy and was achieved with no major miss-haps or disasters which is unusual for me :)
I still had a few jobs to complete, like the bunker and the tank sides, but once the locomotive was painted in works grey, the locomotive went through serious evaluation (playing) which showed me that the locomotive would be fit for purpose but also how cheap the Dapol donor chassis really is when you look at it. Coupled up to a couple of my in progress clerestory conversions she looked rather smart (this is why I have not built the push pull coaches yet)
Eventually the paint shop got into action and presented her in un-lined black and jolly well she looked too (or I least I thought so, plus it hides many sins), maybe eventually I may produce a maroon version??
After another period of playing, err I mean testing the locomotive finally received its LMS lettering but no number, but at least the clerestory conversion was completed.
All I needed to do now was to finally settle on a number, and maybe a bit of weathering, after all she was a working engine and the job would be complete (are they ever as I have since modified a few minor things










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