Monday, 7 May 2018

Woodgreen Model Show 2018

Well as you all know, the reason for the recent sustained work on Sandy Shores was that it would be attending our exhibition - Woodgreen Model Show. This being our 10th year meant it was a pretty big milestone for us, and the weather certainly didn't disappoint!

History of the show:

For those who don't know, this is a brief backstory of the show; Originally, Woodgreen had a biennial model railway exhibition run by Reg & Mary Hunt. This ran for many years (I think 20; so 10 shows?). My dad often attended such exhibitions with his traction engine, and often he and his mates would get together at the event with their engines. Well, 10 years ago, we all decided that instead of having one biennial model railway exhibition, we should mix our interests and jointly host a show every year - this became Woodgreen Model Show, and no longer focused only on model railways. It's a pretty tiny show (the hall isn't exactly big), but it always seems to be much-loved and reasonably well attended. We've always held it as a charity event; every single penny of profit (i.e. with the cost of hiring the hall taken out), goes straight to charity.

This years show:

This year we raised money for 3 charities that are close to our hearts - CLAPA (Cleft Lip & Palate Association - they helped me and my family when I was young), Teenage Cancer Trust, and Help for Heroes.

I can be the first to happily confirm that we raised over £1300 over the two days! All of which will be split between the three charities. No doubt the weather helped the increased footfall over last year, but I hope this means that more people will now know about the event for future years.

This year, we were graciously allowed use of St Boniface's Church, next door, to hold a new portion of our show - local arts and crafts. This proved a hit, and many delightful homemade things were on sale; from jams to doorstops, to lavender products to art!

The Layouts

Binns Road to Basildon - OO - John & Sue Ablett

Buckleigh - OO - James & Chandler Thick & John Penny

Little Bridge - O Gauge - Sedgemoor O Gauge Group

Parracombe - 009 - Peter Hollins

Salisbury - OO Three Rail - Reg & Mary Hunt

Sandy Shores - 009 - Yours truly!

Tramway - Peter Murchison

A huge thanks to:

  • Those that offered the money they made from selling their products to the charities of our choice - that was a kind and a very unexpected surprise!
  • All the exhibitors that attended, and helped make such a great show happen.
  • The various helpers that kindly gave up their bank holiday; from working in the kitchen, to making cakes for us to sell, to manning the door and car park (and everything else in between!).
  • The visitors themselves for not only helping to raise money for charity, but also making sure the exhibition will continue on for another year.
  • The vicar and local church office for allowing use of St. Boniface church throughout the show.
  • And to anyone else I may have missed out!

Sandy Shores - Mud, lighting, ballasting, and building!

Continuing on from the last post; this one documents the progress between the 2nd and 4th of May.

So, lets begin with the pond at the back of the layout. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of every stage, but I'll try and remember what I did! As it stood originally, the pond was rather too blue; being in what's called a "slack" in the sand dunes, the chances are that the pond would be rather more brown and green than blue! Whilst I can't find a comparison photo of how it started out, the photo below shows the pond repainted in various mucky shades of brown and green. In hindsight this still looks a little blue in places, but the next stage hid that part anyway!

Once that had dried, I began adding some ballast to the perimeter of the pond (to help give the edge of the pond some texture) and gave it a thin wash of grey to tone it down a little. Meanwhile, lumps of old hardened DAS clay were broken apart with a hammer and positioned around the pond. I also sprinkled some finer bits of DAS clay around the outside of each of the big rocks to help blend it in. These were also given a wash of dark and light grey paint, and finished off with a bit of green around the base since this part would be submerged in water. As you can see, the final step (for now) was to start adding layers of PVA; stippling it on with an old brush. In reality, I'm probably going to try and find a cheap substance that I can pour in to give the pond (and the mudflats around the harbour) some depth as I'm not happy with the outcome. However, the stream leading from the pond to the front of the layout seems to be perfect for the PVA water method since it would not be a deep stream at all!

And finally with the 5th layer of PVA. As you can see, more depth is definitely required!

With that area sorted out (minus vegetation), I moved on to the harbour area. I've been trying to work out how to model the mudflats for absolutely ages. With internet searches bringing up absolutely nothing, I instead started rummaging through my various boxes looking for something suitable. Happily, I found some very old brown scatter. Using that, some brown emulsion paint, and some Polyfilla (left over from Calshot all those years ago!), I made a brown Polyfilla paste. The scatter helped to give some much needed extra texture to the mix.

Working relatively quickly (so that the Polyfilla didn't set before I had a chance to apply and sculpt it), I applied the paste with the glue spreader. To get it smooth, a little bit of water on the end of my finger proved the most effective method.

Observing photos of real life mudflats (in this case, Ashlett Creek; you may remember that Sandy Shores is intended to be a test bed for Old AGWI Rd, of which Ashlett Creek features on one board.), I noticed that when the tide is more-or-less out, the mudflat around edges of the waterline is somewhat pitted, whilst the rest has a few depressions and a various lines leading in the direction of the water. To represent the pitting, a stiff old brush was used to stipple the Polyfilla mix whilst still somewhat wet; the lines produced by simply dragging the stiff brush across the surface.

After that was done, a few layers of PVA were stippled on, although as mentioned, I will need to find something that I can pour into the deep channels to better represent the water.

But for now, it was time to tackle probably one of the biggest and most important tasks - the ballasting! I didn't bother taking photos of the stages involved, but I'll briefly explain:
- Firstly, the ballast was collected in a little box made of styrene (Those of you having been here from the start will know it as the original water tower, before I was realised it was far too big!), and was then gently tapped to release ballast carefully into place on the tracks.
-  I usually start around the edges of the sleepers, then do the strip in the middle; to reduce the amount I get on the sleepers, this is done very slowly and carefully!
- Next up, I use a soft make-up brush to very gently tap the ballast into place. Do this carefully enough and you'll get some pretty neat results - you can even use it to gently move any stray ballast of the sleepers. Some prefer to tap the rails with something hard, but I have mixed results with that method.
- Then it's time to glue the mix down. Unfortunately I don't have a plant mister (and couldn't get one in time), otherwise I would've used that to prepare the ballast for the incoming glue and water mix. The gluing is done via the classic 50:50 PVA to water mix, with an additional few drops of washing-up liquid to help with dispersion. Unfortunately this ballast (Woodlands Scenics - fine buff) seems to struggle with dispersion, so I'd advise misting it with water first if you are able to. I'd advise covering the larger sleepers around the point tiebars with blutac to stop any glue seeping into it (and the point motor) and jamming it up. This little bit of ballasting can then be done afterwards with a lot more precision and care.

So after a number of pretty tedious (but also somewhat relaxing) hours, the ballasting was complete! A little bit of clearing up was needed in places, but overall the effect was far neater than I have managed previously. Something I also did at this point was to add some spilt sand in places where it is likely - you can see a bit of that in the photo below; both in the areas between the track, and around the edges of the sand dunes (seen here on the top left). This helps to soften the transition between ballast and sand. In time, I will give the track a bit of weathering, and probably add more sand in places.

Anyway, with the major scenic work done, and with time running out, it was time to focus on the little things that need doing. The first of which was the fault line that runs by the loco shed headshunt.; this was filled in with Polyfilla. In hindsight, I guess I should've put some of the sand coloured emulsion paint in the mix, but oh well - lessons learnt for next time! This was of course then followed by paint and then play sand (or ballast around the tracks).

Next up on the list of small jobs was... well... let's see if you can guess...? (Hint: I'm not making white flags to surrender!)

Haven't got it yet? OK, what about this (Hint: It's also not a cow feeder!)...

Figured it out yet? Nope, it's not a garden gazebo! It's in fact the beginnings of the lighthouse lantern room! Obviously much work is needed on it, but the general shape is there at least. Simply formed from Plastruct I-beams, thin plasticard and the glazing windows from Will's sheets packaging. Later on I added some rain strips to the roof, but these aren't shown in this photo. Still yet to do on the lighthouse include; fitting the glazing bars midway up the "glass" windows, producing the interior,  scribing the outside balcony, fitting a false floor in the lantern room, adding windows to the main building, painting and weathering, fitting and painting the handrails... the list goes on!

But let's move on to something I did have time to sort out - the uncoupling magnets. Fashioning a guide for setting the depth of magnets out of thick plasticard, I drilled the holes a bit deeper, and glued the magnets at the right depth using the guide. These were then covered in ballast, which was promptly glued.

Next up (by this time it was about 10pm on the day before the show!), it was time to finish the lighting rig, at least enough for it to be usable for the show. To that end (after a failed first attempt) we (my dad and I) finally finished soldering the 4 lengths of LED strip together with layout wire. This proved rather more fiddly than expected, as the contacts themselves were pretty tiny. But we got there in the end! Oh, and the cable trunking was also cut to 4 lengths - two for the front, one for the middle, and one for the back of the layout. As you can see in the photos below, we had to use two sizes of mini-trunking since we ran out of the larger stuff. Actually I guess the smaller is better anyway - since you are less likely to be blinded when down low. Although in reality, both do their job absolutely fine.

Originally I was going to suspend the cable trunking to the underside of the softwood battens, but in the end I decided to just carefully place it on top of the layout for the duration of the show. In future, I'll probably just drill holes on the ends of each length, and use some wire suspend it from the frame. As you'll see in the photo below, the thinner trunking is some bent, but this won't be much of an issue once it's suspended.

And so that brings us on to the final thing to be done until the morning of the show; the grounded carriage. After a quick paint of white (I didn't bother doing the two-tone blue of the lower half - that can wait until after the show) and a roof cut out from sand paper, we have the basic shell of the building complete. Obviously it needs a heck of a lot doing to it (including windows, roof rain strips etc), but it's getting there!

There's still one more blog entry (the show report) that I am yet to write up, but I'm afraid I've spent hours putting this post together, so I'll have to put that up either later on today, or more likely, tomorrow. Either way, I hope you've enjoyed this update, and although it's been a stressful two weeks, I think the result has been a huge boost to my modelling confidence!

As a bit of fun, here's a list of what happened, and when, over 2 days:

3rd May (Gaps indicate periods away from modelmaking)
- Layer of PVA (4th) [10am]
- Paint little outhouse on tiny jetty [11am]
- Mudflat [1pm]
- Quay posts [1.15pm]
- Layer of PVA (5th) [1.20pm]
- Spill some sand onto ballast + glue it [2pm]

- Paint black sleepers [3.10pm]
- Layer of PVA [3.30pm]
- Loco shed floor [4pm]

- Filling in gaps with polyfilla [7.30pm]
- Layer of PVA [7.50pm]

4th May
- Layer of PVA [9:45am]
- Lighthouse lantern room [10.10-3.10pm]
- Layer of PVA [3:20pm]
- Filler painted [3:35pm]
- Re-lay magnets [4:00pm]
- Cut off point motor pole excess [4:27pm]

- Lighting rig [11:20pm]
- Structures glued, doors on loco shed glued etc. [0:05am]
- Finish little shack [0:30am]
- Carriage [1.30am]

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Sandy Shores - Beach Building

With apologies for the delay in posting - as you can imagine, I've been somewhat busy getting the layout up to a decent enough standard to show to the public. Having only a two week deadline meant long days (over 12 hours), late nights, and at times frustration. I know a lot of modellers realise that deadlines sort of ruin the fun of this fantastic hobby - and, whilst I am inclined to agree, I also can't help but point out that deadlines are a very good way of getting stuff done!

With very little railway modelling having been done over the past year, it was actually only the deadline that really pushed me to make decent amounts of progress. I've done a hell of a lot more because of it than I otherwise would have done. And in fact, I've even tackled jobs that I've been putting off - that perhaps would've otherwise not been done for many months. But on the other hand, longs hours and a seemingly everlasting list of things to complete does induce a lot of stress. Stress which this hobby is supposed to suppress.

So yes, deadlines are great for getting stuff done... but not so great for your sanity!

Anyway, enough of that, let's focus on the progress for the past few days. Let's start off at the beach; and a reminder of how it started off as:

Above: As you can see, not only is there a large gap underneath the lighthouse, but the beach lacks any form of proper boundary with the stream. But let's sort out the beach height first:

Above and below: So as is always the case with major landforms; the first step I take is to make a rough template using old newspaper. Due to the fact the beach will slope towards the front of the layout, in the end, you'll see that the front bit of the template wasn't used:

Below: Once I was happy with the basic shape, it was glued with PVA, and left to cure for a few hours with some weights on top:

Below: So, whilst that was curing, my attention turned to something else - layout lighting. A while back, Michael Campbell posted on his latest layout thread his results with 4000K LED strip. You may remember I had originally used cheap RGB LED strip; but was never truly happy with the colours (despite that the RGB values could be adjusted). The results of his purchase seemed to produce much more natural colours than I have ever managed with any lighting rig I've made; so I followed suit! As you'll see, the result is pretty much spot on in my opinion...

Obviously, colour is hard to perceive through a photo, and even more so through a monitor, but it's clear to see the improvement! Not only do the colours seem natural, but the lights are very bright, and very little would be needed for a layout like this. In one of the upcoming posts, I'll show you the final set up. The photos above and below were both taken at night, with the only source of light being the LED strip.

Below: Now going back to the beach (since it's had time for the glue to cure), it was time to use up the rest of the clay I had and cover the whole thing in it. In actual fact, I'd probably recommend something like Polyfilla for this since clay gets quite heavy, but for a small layout like this, it's not really a concern for me. Anyway, I was also keen to cover up any holes under the groyne, and also to show that some sand would have spilled through the many cracks!

With a small amount of clay left, it seemed a shame to waste it; it's then that I realised the transition from the beach to the stream was somewhat poorly executed. A little while later, and we have the beginnings of the small sand "cliffs" caused from erosion that form the bank of the stream as it carves its way through the beach.

After that, it was the standard method of painting, gluing play sand on, then lastly a thin wash of more paint to form the necessary look and texture of the beach. With only 3 days left by this point I had the sudden realisation that I should really be getting the first signs of water on the layout. First though, I wanted to add a little more texture and some slightly more realistic colouring into the stream bed. Given that the stream at this point would just be carved out of the sand, I sprinkled some play sand along the stream, and then set about repainting it to give a smoother transition from the murky pond to the almost clear sea. The final photo below shows the first of many (about 5 or 6) layers of PVA to go on the water areas - it's still drying in the photo; hence the murkiness.

So that'll be it for this post; the next one will show the next couple days of progress. For now though, I need some sleep after all these late nights, and a full day of showing the layout (I'll post about that eventually, when I am able to catch up!).