Friday, 30 May 2014

Taking A Wrong Turning

Himself has turned his attention now to the missing link at the Rhyd Ddu end of the layout.

This is the part where the layout finishes and the track heads off into the forest cum fiddle yard.

It also includes a baseboard where the trains pass twice travelling in opposite directions.

As you can see this board is half built already.  This is as far as the line went when we exhibited the layout at the WHR Super Power event last year. We've come a long way since then.

The scenery here is quite complicated because the river is crossed for the second time in the top right hand corner and then immediately after the board joint the track passes over the level crossing called Bron Hebog, inspired by the layout may I add.

At this point it should then swing to the right and off into Beddgelert Forest.

However, this is as far as the journey takes us and instead our trains will charge around a sharp left hander. (15" radius for those who are counting)

As you can see from the picture below the boards are aligned in an offset pattern here, with some running across the way and the end ones up and down.

You cannot see the left hand end edge of the layout in the picture which, for those of you who've not had the chance to see it in real life, will give you an impression of just how big - in 009 terms - it's going to be.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Added Extras

Sad to report that I've discovered a flaw in the Artistic Director's exquisite plans for the latest Oberon Wood house.

As I've written here in previous posts I am building the house in two sections - a north and south wing.

The issue is on the south wing. The plans I was given suggested a roof profile with an equal slope on either side and the top point in the centre of the building, which is how I initially built it.

Then I came across one of my research pictures which shows it is asymmetric.

Fortunately the joy of building in styrene is that you can easily graft extra pieces on and blend them in with some extra solvent brushed over the join and some tactical standing.

When it's finished they'll never know. (Except for the fact I've told the whole world here, of course....)

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Tricky Bit At The Back

I've been mentioning that the most challenging bit of the design of the latest Oberon Wood house I'm building is to be found at the back.

A few of the houses - none of which appear to be exactly alike - have a distinctive long gallery window on the first floor, set back beneath an overhanging section of roof.

So how best to represent this on the model?

What I decided to do was fall back on the same styrene fabrication technique I use for scratch building carriages/

This is the first stage effectively creating a sort of comb out of styrene strip.

With another rail glued on top and some cills added to strengthen it the unit was glued into place.

You get more of an impression of how it's going to look with a section of slate effect styrene cut out and placed in position.

What do you think so far?

Saturday, 24 May 2014

More Track Goes Down

The track work on Bron Hebog is tantalisingly close to being completed now with lengths being laid on the latest board.

This is the final stretch of the S bend around Cwm Cloch farm where the line has climbed all the way from Beddgelert station.

The ballast has yet to  be laid but that will probably wait until after the rock lining has been added in the cutting.

This shot give a very good impression of just how deep this is even in model form. 

Heaven help us if anything derails in there during an exhibition because you're going to need a very long arm to reach in there...

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Other Half

I've been making rapid progress with the latest house. The basic frame of the northern wing is now made.

This is the view from the front.

The bit of wall that juts out will become the entrance porch and the window frame you can see at the top is yet to be turned into a dormer.

Take a wander around to the back - the side that backs onto the cutting leading into Beddgelert station - and the design gets more challenging.

The obvious cut out section will eventually house a very distinctive, inset gallery-style window.

More on this to come shortly.

Place the two halves in position beside each other and at last we get an impression of the shape of the finished house.

As you can see the two sections are offset, and not only that but at the front there is a wide, deep gully, the lower half of which will have the porch in front of it.

There's also a separate double garage to make which will sit in front of the southern wing.

All in all a very interesting building to tackle.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Grass Cutting

I showed you a picture last week of some of the carpet underlay freshly glued in place on one of the new boards.

When it first goes down there's far too much of it and it's too long and tufty.

Now this section has received a good haircut and if you click back and compare with the previous shot a few days ago you'll notice a big difference.

You've probably also noticed how much we still have to do. Himself won't get a lot of time to laze about in his deckchair this summer.....

Sunday, 18 May 2014

House Update

House number four - 24 by street number - is coming along nicely.

I've decided to build it in two halves, or perhaps I should say two wings, and this is the southern one.

That was the front and this, below is the view from the rear.

I've also cut out and prepared the parts for the other half.

Laid out like this it looks like one of those shape puzzles where you have to fit all the bits into a square.

This northern wing of the house is most definitely not a simple box.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Working To A Deadline

Himself tells me we have a new incentive - or perhaps a threat, depending on how you see it - to get Bron Hebog finished.

Another exhibition invite has flooded in for April 2015. I won't say where, except that it is somewhere to the south of London, because it's not confirmed yet.

However the invite came with a rider that they are only interested in having the layout at the show if it is finished by then.

Of course, as every modeller knows, there is no such thing as a 'finished' layout but I am supposing the definition in this case is that at the very least the trackwork should be complete and all the scenery should be there and be green.

Himself has chosen to take this up as a challenge and is maintaining his impressive rate of progress.

The latest update I've received includes this snap of the most recent board with a coat of plaster having been brushed onto the Mod Roc.

Himself tells me this board is already starting to get 'rather heavy' and he hasn't added the rock lining to the cutting yet!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Time For A Trim

Some of that new carpet underlay I showed you a few days ago being dried after a dunk in a bath of green dye is now being fixed in place on the layout as the first layer of long grass.

It looks pretty long and tufty at this stage but a lot of it will be pulled off and other bits given a short back & sides in due court to leave a much thinner covering.

This board is the first of the new ones we have been working on this year.

To help you orientate, what you're looking at is the middle section of the S bend. The camera is at the Porthmadog end. Beddgelert station would be over to the right of the picture and the track coming towards is about to take a big sweep to the left and enter the big U bend.

Do you know where you are now?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Sideways Look

The good news is that supplies of Mod Roc were sufficient to cover the whole of the latest board.

If you're wondering why it's up on its side allow me to explain.

In his usual belt and braces approach to all matters of construction Himself coats the underside of the Mod Roc with PVA to ensure it is bonded as firmly as it can be to the chicken wire.

You can get a better appreciation of the topography of this board from this view.

The two flat areas at the top will become the approach to a level crossing and the base for the ruined barn which is prominent between the tracks in the centre of the S bend.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Green Green Grass Of Home

We've fielded a lot of questions over the years about what we use for the long grass on our layouts. (Fielded - geddit?)

The answer is we use old hairy carpet underlay, teased out and treated to a bath of cold fabric dye.

Here is the latest batch of grass out to dry on the real grass at Bron Hebog HQ.

It seems this type of underlay is getting harder to track down. We have been kept supplied by a very kind fellow modeller who gave us some from his personal stockpile.

Himself tells me this new batch has come out slightly darker than previous lots - how long to leave it in a bucket of dye is not really an exact science - but we should be able to blend it in with some of the lighter stuff.

With static grass applied on top it shouldn't really show.

Thursday, 8 May 2014


The observant among you may have noticed a televisual theme developing in the titles of this and the previous post.

In this case the 24 relates not to whatever kind of dramatic scenario was being played out on the goggle box (don't ask me - I've never watched it) but house number 24 in the Oberon Wood estate.

This is the fourth of the houses we have tackled so far, and once again I am fortunate to have a set of beautiful hand-drawn plans from the Artistic Director to work from.

This is the most complicated of the properties I have tackled so far.

As you can see in the picture the front aspect of the house has three steps and the outside wall of the double garage is faced with stone which I will have to scribe onto styrene sheet.

I'm waiting on a new delivery of 60" sheet before I can cut the main side walls but I'm using up the scraps that I have by making two of the sections on the front.

The rear will be even more of a challenge as it is the first of a number of houses in this row to feature a long, gallery-style window tucked in under the eaves.

I'll tell you more about that when I come to it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Wire

Now the scenic formers are in place the next stage in building the new board is to fix the chicken wire in place on top.

In this track level shot you can see the transition from cutting to embankment along this section of track along the back of the layout.

The plan in the days ahead is to begin laying the Mod Roc on top. Hopefully there will be enough because Himself tells me our supplies are running low....

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A Complete Whitewash

As I mentioned a few weeks back, Himself is getting rather impatient these days.

He wasn't prepared to wait for some squared styrene sheet to come back into stock so ended up scribing his own for the patio and steps around the latest house on the layout.

Now he has concluded that there's a much better chance of this third house getting painted before the summer is out if he gets out his brushes rather than waiting for the Artistic Director to get around to it.

(The first two houses were handed over many weeks ago but have yet to resurface)

This is the result of his efforts.

He's used acrylic paint, just like the Artistic Director does, but I hope Himself won't be offended by a gentle observation that, although exceptionally neatly done, the house might not have some of the very subtle weathering effects that Francis can achieve.

As the buildings are not fixed in place yet I hope that it may be possible to tempt the Artistic Director into action to retrospectively distress it and make it look a little less brand new.

Friday, 2 May 2014

More On The New Board

Himself has been busy getting the scenic formers in place on the new board and fixing the trackbed on its supports.

The round area on the right hand side of the board, which looks for all the world like a helipad, is in fact the flat area for the other side of the farm crossing.

Once again all the scenery supports, which have been cut and shaped out of plywood and which  have been drilled for lightness in the style of an airframe - which is a bit of a joke considering the cutting will be lined with real rock - but I suppose every little helps.

You can see how the trackbed on this board will transition in a very short distance from a very deep cutting to an embankment by the time it reaches the other end.

Unfortunately I have to report that Himself was injured in the line of duty - he cut finger when the pull saw slipped. That ended the work session for the day and the patient reports he self-medicated with a pint of beer.