November 2013. This month has seen a bit of a transformation in the layout. Having completed the trackwork last month, we have now started on the scenery, starting with the London end.
The first stage has been to fill in the open-plan base boards with a mixture of 3mm mdf for the flattish bits, and card for the rest - embankments etc. On top of this I have laid a generous and uneven thickness of artex mixed with PVA to give a little texture to what will be open fields in the finished scheme of things. This has all been done very quickly, and I forgot to take any photos - I’ll take some when we repeat the process for the Lewes end of the layout.
I’ve painted the white artex an earth colour to make sure no white shows through when finished. For the grass I have invested in one of the FMR static grass applicators. Some makes of these machines are ridiculously expensive at £100 and upwards, whereas the FMR machine is about £30 depending on which size you buy. I bought the larger size, but I think for what I’m doing (about 16sq ft of grass) the smaller one would have been perfectly adequate.
The technique for using these machines is very simple, and there are several YouTube videos demonstrating how they work. It took me about 2 hours to cover a 10 ft length of embankment, so it’s quick to do, and the end result is very satisfying - the best grass I’ve been able to produce in 30 years of modelling. As with all things in nature there is no consistency of colour in grass, so I’ve used about six different shades and mixed in random, varying proportions (two colours at a time) to give what I hope looks like natural variation.
An important part of the rural scene is the railway lineside fencing, and inevitably there are no manufacturers of LBSC fencing, which is somewhat unusual - five rails, more closely spaced at the bottom than the top, and half round posts on alternate sides every 5ft or so. The photo above shows some embryonic fencing at ‘first-fit’ stage, awaiting painting, and final joining together into one single length.
Last time I made some of this fencing, for Pulborough, I had to make the half round posts, which was very tedious. This time Evergreen plastic comes to the rescue, and I have been able to buy the components I need. I have made a simple drawing of the fence on CorelDraw, taped the rails to the drawing, and cemented on the posts - an evening’s work to make five 12 inch lengths of fencing. Another 15 or so to make......
I’ve started making a few small trees and bushes, and this has forced me to make a decision about what season to model. The autumn colours this year are fantastic - bright yellows and oranges, plus a few trees still in leaf, and a few others completely stripped of leaves. So that’s decided - autumn. The only problem is that I have no autumn foliage, so back to the internet to find a supplier of Woodland Scenics, and wait for delivery.
The over-bridge is now more or less complete, awaiting just some hand-railing, weathering, and a little minor detailing. It’s a bit bland at present, but will be much improved with some dry brushed white highlights to pick out some of the detail. I’ve started to add a few small bushes around the tunnel entrance but need the autumn Woodland Scenics material to finish these.
Once the scenic work on the London end is finished we’ll be moving eastward to the station area, and the platforms. I’ve made all the platform faces from Slaters brickwork, and completed some of the corbelling, and the brick edging to the platform. However, the platform surface has been exercising me. All the photos I have seen, seem to show a tarmac surface - certainly not gravel or bare earth. The period around 1900 seems quite early for this, given that the road surface in Plumpton was little more than a muddy track at the time. I can only presume that, because of the adjacent race-course, Plumpton would have been quite busy at times, and therefore warranted a decent surface on its platforms.
The question is how to replicate tarmac? One of the most promising solutions I’ve come across is fine wet-and-dry paper, subtly painted to give variation in colour without covering the texture. I also have the problem of what to use for the structure of the platform top, under the paper. If I use plastic, I’m not sure I can get a reliable bond to the paper, but if I use card, I will have to use a lot of support underneath to stop it sagging. On the other hand I’ve got quite a lot of 1mm ply. I think some experimentation is called for.
December 2013. Another milestone has been reached - we have erected all four boards together for the first time, and run a loco all over it. It’s a bit of a squeeze getting 16ft of layout into my work-room but it just fits.
The London end of the layout has now been more or less completed, although there is still plenty of detail that can be added in the future, so we’ve transferred attention to the ‘Lewes’ end. There is a culverted stream some distance east of Plumpton, which makes quite an interesting feature, so we’ve moved it westward to fit it onto our model. The culvert is a large brick-egg construction about 7’6” in height, with a substantial brick headwall at either end. The photos show how the culvert was made - Slaters brick plasticard wrapped around an old broom handle, and clamped in place while being glued to a flat base. The invert of the culvert should of course be radiused rather than flat, but since the water surface will be flattish, the absence of a semi-circular invert will not be evident. The brick arch over the pipe in the second photo is made of individual rectangles of plastic.