Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Sandy Shores @ Woodgreen - 2019

Woodgreen Model Show & Steam Rally 2019
This year saw our 11th show, and we're pleased to announce that we raised a whopping £1286; which will all be split between CLAPA & the Alzheimer's Society. We cannot thank our exhibitors, helpers/volunteers, cake-bakers, the church, and the general public for their outstanding support!
Year-on-year, the event grows, and we make more and more money for these worthy causes; without your help, this wouldn't happen, so we are truly grateful for everyone's support.
2020 will see the event get bigger and better, and we're already planning a strategic re-think of the layout of the hall to make more use of the space; as well as the church, so that we can cram in more layouts and displays.

"Sandy Shores" - I think this needs no introduction on this blog! I will add though that the layout ran very well, until the point motor that leads to the sidings would only throw one way; it also ripped up the switch rail on one side, but fortunately it just popped back into place. A little bit concerned as to why it all happened, but it's something I will need to try and rectify before I take the layout out again.

"Elmbridge" - N gauge - Tony Parker. Despite being only 5ft x 2ft, this layout shows just how much detail and interest can be crammed into a small space. It also featured some rather nice illumination:

"Buckleigh"- A OO gauge branch line layout by James & Chandler Thick & John Perry; based on Cadeleigh Station on the old Exe Valley line. Another well-detailed layout, with plenty of cameo scenes:

"Woolbridge" - Sedgmoor O Gauge Group. A wonderful branch line terminus on GWR and SR metals, set between the 1930s to the 1950s; complete with scratchbuilt buildings:

"Tramway" - An unusual end-to-end layout representing high street shops from Wilton - built by Peter Murchison. It features some wonderfully modelled trams, and humourously named shop fronts:

"Farmer's Wife's Layout" - O Gauge - A display from the period between the 1900s to 1930s. Bassett Lowke and Hornby locomotives and rolling stock, along with vintage vehicles and scenic items give off a real dose of nostalgia. Alongside this layout, is a display of WWI memorabilia; commemorating the end of World War I, and dedicated to railwaymen who fought in that war. Display by Reg & Mary Hunt:

Outdoor Exhibits: Various exquisite model traction engines, presented by the Wessex group:

And finally: - A few general views of the show, including the rather delicious array of homemade cakes and other delicacies!

All in all it was an absolutely wonderful event; not only did we raise a huge amount for charity, but the outpouring of support from just about everywhere was fantastic. Many, many helpers made the event run smoothly, and the donation of homemade cakes definitely went down a treat! 

Here's to next year!

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sandy Shores - Making Waves

Despite two back-to-back weekends of exhibitions, there was still just enough time to make some last minute adjustments and additions to the layout. First up was to add a flashing light to the lighthouse. I had bought a cheap kit off of Amazon that was supposed to represent a typical slow flash... unfortunately, whilst soldering it all up was a breeze, the end result was a flash that wasn't the slow fade in and out I was hoping for! Oh well, it'll do fine for the Woodgreen show, I'll probably change it for future shows though.

Next up was to begin to ease the transition between the scenic and non-scenic section. Whilst this is only the beginning of my plans, the first idea was to add some slightly scenic-ed elements in the fiddle yard. First up was to make another sand dune, using the same methods as the rest of the layout. By cutting a basic shape of polystyrene with a hot wire cutter, we have this:

With the basic shape cut, the hot wire cutter was then used to make it look more sand dune shaped, with the rear side left vertical as it won't be seen. The polystyrene could then be glued with PVA, which was then weighed down overnight with a 500g weight. The following day, a layer of PVA could be brushed on, followed by a layer of polyfilla; which was applied with a glue spreader, and finally, using a slightly damp brush, smoothed. Once again, this was left to cure overnight. We'll continue this in a future blog entry!

So, still in the non-scenic section, I also decided to slightly scenic the train turntable. The first step was to paint the sleepers; this being done with a can of Plastikote Suede Touch spray paint. (I've had this can since Calshot, some 9+ years ago!). Once that had dried, I could crack on with covering the ply. As the scenic work needs only be very basic here, all I did was to cover most of it with a thin layer of PVA and play sand; and then ballast the track as per normal. I think I might add the odd tuft of marram grass here and there, and perhaps some barrow crossings to hide the PCB; but other than that, I think that'll be plenty to give an impression of there being something beyond the hole. It'll barely be seen from the scenic-side anyway!

Onwards to the next job, and that was to add some waves and ripples to the watery areas at the front of the layout. This turned out to be a really fun and easy experience. In truth, I had completely forgotten that I had this bottle of "realistic water" from Woodlands Scenics, as it's another left-over from Calshot! Whilst some of the deeper bits (i.e. in the tidal mudflats) took well over 48 hours to clear, they did eventually.

Note how, in the photo above, the ripples from the stream actually go towards the ocean, and not away (until the very edge of the board), as the stream discharges its water into the ocean.

The method of application was actually pretty straight forward. As the material is relatively viscous, it takes to shaping very well, making it easy to form waves and ripples. For the waves, I borrowed the technique from their own website: applying with a lollipop stick, and then standing the stick behind the material, and flicking it upwards towards the stick to form wave crests. The only thing not yet done is to highlight the crest of the waves with a brush of white paint. Anyway, you can watch how I made the waves in this quick timelapse video:

The tidal area was a doddle as it was simply a case of brushing (with a slightly damp brush) the material into the water channels. As mentioned, some of the deepest areas took over 48 hours to go fully transparent, but most took only 24 hours:

So there we have it, a few days worth of work, and Sandy Shores was ready for its outing to Woodgreen Model Show & Steam Rally. For more photos and details of the event, see my recent blog entry, here. As a little teaser, here's a photo I took of Sandy Shores at the event:

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Sandy Shores @ RMweb SWAG 2019, Taunton

Well the time was finally upon me to pack up my tiny car and make the 2 hour trip across to Taunton for the RMweb SWAG (South West Area Group) event. Up at 6am, I somehow managed to fit the layout and all its associated gubbins into the car first time with a few cloths and a remnant of carpet to give a bit of cushioning. As you can see, it was a tight fit; but I could still see out of my rear view mirror which was my primary concern:

Whilst I was late in heading off, I still managed to get to the venue with just enough time to spare to set-up before the visitors came. The wheeled trolley that I had built at the beginning of April really came into its own when setting up; as it meant I could put everything onto the layout and still be able to make adjustments to the siting of the whole thing. This saved a lot of back breaking moving!

The backscene was hastily attached with double sided sticky pads, and the whole ensemble was then ready for showtime, and backscene bulges aside, I have to admit, I'm very pleased with how it looked:

The stretchy grey layout drape that my mum had sewn for me really finishes off the layouts presentation very nicely indeed; as does the driftwood sign which saw quite a few compliments. For those wondering, I used the laptop on the stool to occasionally show people some of the construction methods and sketches.

I've said this elsewhere, but I cannot believe the amount of compliments, praise, and warm comments (as well as useful suggestions, and jovial discussions) that were had at the event. In fact, I had been talking to so many modellers in front of the layout all day that by mid-way through the event, the lovely kitchen helpers (in this case; Graham Muspratt of Fisherton Sarum fame!) had to bring me cups of tea as I couldn't get away from the layout!

Admittedly, the above photo is the only one I took of Sandy Shores, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait until Monday for any close up photos. However, if you really can't wait, Andy York has an absolutely cracking photo of it over on RMweb. There's also a lengthy interview with me flapping my arms about as I explain to Phil Parker (of BRM) various aspects of the layout; along with some great footage filmed by Andy. You can watch that here over on the BRM Facebook page.

As to the event itself, I've said it elsewhere, but I'll say it again; it's probably the most relaxed and enjoyable exhibition you could ever hope to attend. There was barely a minute that went by where I wasn't inundated with eyes gazing at the layout, and fellow RMweb members asking questions, giving lovely compliments, and generally just having interesting and humourous discussions with them. I spent way more time chatting to people than I did operating the layout; but that was actively encouraged which was a refreshing change from every other exhibition I've attended. It really was a friendly show; a real credit to all those involved. And what's more, they raised £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support which is a cracking result for a 1 day show.

The amount of interest the layout received was absolutely unbelievable. I'm still taken aback by it all; it was completely overwhelming (but in the best way possible!). I've had numerous invites to shows far and wide, and may even get the chance to feature in a publication in the summer somewhen.

So yes, I could not have asked for more!

And so, to finish off this entry, I realised I had never posted about my recent acquisition. During a few email exchanges with the talented James Hilton, I was looking for another loco commission when he offered for me to purchase one of his first creations. Naturally, upon inspection I immediately had to buy it off him; so I am the proud owner of a Bagnall Saddle Tank; wonderfully painted, weathered, and finished off with details and a driver:

A superb model, isn't it?! And it proved a most reliable and smooth runner, too. All in all, it's been a fantastic few days; and I'm so grateful for everyones' warm comments, compliments, suggestions, and general discussions. It's been a wild ride, and with our family show coming up this weekend, there are still a few things I need to sort out.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Sandy Shores - Disaster, rebuilding, and repainting

A close call!

It's fair to say that Friday and Saturday was incredibly stressful last week! But before we get onto that, my overall plan was to try and finish the mudflat and pond area before the show. To do this, the first step was to repaint the pond into more suitably muddy colours. As there were numerous layers of PVA applied to the pond over a year ago, it meant I had to find another method of applying paint; so I figured the best way would be to mix it with PVA to form a sticky layer that would have no problem adhering to the cured PVA underneath. The middle of the pond was obviously painted a shade or two darker than the edges to help with the illusion of depth. Here's a before and after:

And whilst I was at it, I figured the channel that runs from the pond and into the sea would need a gradient of the same colours, whilst petering out at the sea end:

And it wasn't long before the tidal area received similar treatment; the deeper parts being painted in a dark brown, with the shallow water was painted in a slightly lighter colour. This proved to be much trickier to do than anticipated as the emulsion dried very quickly, meaning I couldn't really mix a large amount. It didn't help that the paint dried a much darker colour than the mix! I got there in the end though, so here's another before and after:

Much better!
With that done, it was time to move onto other aspects of painting. Recently it was suggested that the kiosk and information board roofs, whilst in-keeping with the weathering on the rest of the layout, would actually be likely to be in better condition than the rest of the structures. It was thus a case of repainting the corrugated sheets in a darkish grey and dry-brushing highlights of cream over the top. I used our shed as inspiration for the painting here, which seems to have the top layer slightly coming off along the ridges of each corrugation (hence the whitish look). The posts were also given a wash of cream colour paint to try and lighten them a little bit (although it's not immediately obvious from the photos below:)

With show day being only 2 days away, for some bizarre reason I felt it a wise idea to try and create the water in the pond and tidal area water by using a resin product by Woodlands Scenics called "E-Z Water". Long story short, it turned out to be anything but easy! Not only do you have to heat it on a gas stove, but as I found out, you have to heat it up to a high temperature and pour it very quickly; otherwise the bottom cures before the top and it'll crack horribly. Whilst it suggests you might need to use a heating tool (gas torch or similar) to create ripples, in reality you will need to use it just to get it to level out.

This is when disaster occurred! Long story short, I poured the deep channel bit a minute or so before the rest, which actually was long enough for it to cure to such a degree that it all cracked and turned yellow. I guess there may have been some residual moisture, but I think the bigger problem was the curing of the underside. The result was a complete mess; and whilst application of the hand gas torch helped level out the resin, it did nothing to fix the cracking and discolouration!

By this point I was having a complete meltdown, especially given show day was 2 days away! After a while to cool off (both me and the layout!), I decided the only course of action was to rip up the harbour and start afresh:

The damage was actually nowhere near as bad as I was expecting: much of the original channel was left intact. That's not to say that it didn't need a lot of work in getting it back to how it was, but I had envisioned having to cut out the entire harbour (including the polystyrene foundation)! I mixed up some polyfilla, and set to work correcting the damage as sympathetically as possible:

So all in all, less than 24 hours after the disaster, the harbour was looking just as it did before; not bad going all things considered! This meant I could spend the last few hours doing some small jobs to get the layout ready for the show. First up was to paint all 12 flat wagons (that were originally designed and 3D printed by Mark Greenwood for my Old AGWI Rd layout). It's probably been 4 years that they've sat in my box waiting for paint, couplings, and wheels!

So, my usual wood painting technique was employed; a wash of black, a wash of brown, picking off various planks in a slightly darker wash of brown, and then a final waft of matt varnish:

I didn't have quite enough couplings for all of them, but I did end up with a very lengthy rake of goods wagons; almost as long as the layout itself!:

Aside from testing the track and fixing some loose connections with solder, the only job left to do was to reprint and attach a new control panel legend. As you'll see, the old one had faded to such a degree that it was almost illegible! In order to try and mitigate this in the future, I've sprayed the new one with matt varnish.

So there we have it, disaster averted, and just in time for Sandy Shores to make it to the RMweb event in Taunton! You'll see how I got on next time!