Tag Archives: micro layouts

The ex-file

Well, contrary to what I said in my last entry, I have actually made some changes on the micro. Witness:

It all started when I added a bit of grass (carpet fibres, available from the shop at Pendon Museum in their own scenic range). Unfortunately, this was a little more effective than I’d hoped, and really showed up the bare grey card. I added washes of light grey in various shades with various brown tints to make the card look a bit more like concrete. Here’s what the layout looks like with no stock, vehicles or buildings:

As you can see, I did add clutter. The buildings have loads stacked up against them, largely to ensure they get positioned correctly. The large crates and small barrels are from Gilbow – superb accessories, among the best on the market in my opinion. The other crates are Peco and the red-ended barrel is Merit.

The pile of sand is a discovery of my own. There’s this substance you can get in art shops known as gel medium. Essentially, the idea behind this is that you add it to paint to give your paintings texture. It comes in several varieties and can be easily shaped. It costs a little under £10 a jar, but is incredibly useful. I’ve used it to represent sand, gravel and pebble dash in the past. Here, I mixed it with Games Workshop’s “Snakebite Leather” paint, which creates a nice sandy colour.

The tractor is an Oxford die cast model and the car is Classix. I don’t intend to fix the vehicles down, as they’re a handy way of setting the period. I want this to be fairly flexible in terms of setting, just so that nothing I run there looks totally wrong.

Conceptually, this is basically a smaller version of “Micklewhite Wharf.” At the moment, it’s called “Semple Town,” which I hope people won’t take as a comment on its builder. It’s set in East London on the south bank of the Thames – the distant buildings on the backscene are supposed to be on the far side of the river. The name comes from the tendency of places in East London to be named after industrial firms – Canning Town, Silvertown, Beckton. This is the works of Harry Semple.

I have no idea what Semple’s factory produces, but it certainly requires a large variety of rolling stock. Much of this has been inherited from Micklewhite Wharf, for the obvious reasons that (a) it’s the same setting and (b) both layouts require compact stock in order to be satisfying to run.

Above left is the Terrier, the “main line” engine. It’s also the longest engine on the layout, which might be a first for a Terrier. It’s hauling the workmen’s train, which consists of repainted “Emily’s Coaches” from Bachmann’s Thomas the Tank Engine range. There’s barely enough room for the engine with both coaches, so most of the time the train will consist of one coach. The Terriers, as I’ve said before, were typical East London engines and could be found both north and south of the river.

Above right is Billy, a rather battered Bachmann Junior locomotive. For a while, Bachmann produced this and an 0-4-0 saddle tank using the tooling from their American Thomas range. Unfortunately, this got them in a bit of trouble with HIT Entertainment, Thomas’ copyright holders, and so have been withdrawn. Detailing is minimal and they’re basically freelance, but I think they look rather neat. I was going to repaint this one, but I think I might just weather him down a bit.

The engine on the left is another Bachmann Junior engine, this time a somewhat Hunslet-esque diesel shunter originally named Rusty. I’ve repainted it and slightly weathered it, and coincidentally it matches Billy’s colour quite well. The wagon immediately behind is a curiosity, and not actually mine. My brother picked it up second-hand, and due to a lack of space and time I am the current custodian of much of his stock. The lack of markings suggest it’s an internal user wagon. As the bro said, it’s quite a nice thing to have on a Docklands layout.

The railway still isn’t finished. The more I do, the more I find to do. I’m sure you know what I mean. But given that in terms of total hours I’ve spent less than a day to get this far (not including drying time for glue) and considering that I’ve spent less than £10, I’m quite pleased.

Now I’m thinking in terms of other micro-layouts. I’ve had lots of layout ideas over the years, but no room for them. Now I’m thinking in terms of a parcels depot, a Tube station, a harbour, a scrapyard, dabbling in O-16.5…

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Grime and Punishment

They say that a layout is never truly finished. I’m afraid I managed to disprove that supposition with my last layout, which I definitely did finish. Now I’m bored, which is why I’m embarking on a new layout. Like the last one, this will be a micro.

 IMG_0823_2Hopefully this mock-up gives you some idea of the sort of thing I’m going for. The setting is basically going to be somewhere in London’s Docklands, with brooding warehouses looming on all sides, two-level track and a small canal basin. I’m not aiming to be even remotely realistic here, aiming primarily for atmosphere. You see, I’m a great fan of grime and rust. I’m weird like that. I love sooty, crumbling brickwork, corroded metal, abandoned buildings and places where I shouldn’t be. This is going to be a version of the Docklands that celebrates that. A Dickensian caricature of reality.

There is quite a bit that’s not so obvious from the photo. Under the bridge, I’m planning to have the canal – all silted up, maybe a grounded barge. There will be a similarly decrepit crane or two, a reminder of better days. The sheets of card will be hacked into giant corrugated iron warehouses. Were there ever warehouses that big made of corrugated iron? In this version of reality, of course there were. And they were never maintained, either.

It’s a scrap box project, that is to say, I’m trying to make it using mostly things dredged up from my scrap box with minimal expenditure. The signal box and pagoda shed are both Wills, the bridge is Hornby, the buffer stop is Peco. Track is Hornby. The water tower is from Hornby’s Thomas the Tank Engine range, and is perfect for light and industrial railways.

The baseboard cost a grand total of £4.50, being the frame from a dirt-cheap artist’s canvas with a sheet of foamcore mounted on top. I’m planning on adding at least two more sheets of foamcore, partly for the sake of strength and partly so that the canal will have a bit of depth when I hack it out.

You’ll recall that I mentioned corrugated iron warehouses. These were inspired by a lucky find in an art materials shop in Soho (Cass Art of Berwick Street, if you’re interested). They had corrugated card in A4 sheets – slightly overscale for 4mm, but again, this ain’t reality. In any case, it’s cheaper than plasticard and easier to work with than plastic sheets. The sheets are available in several colours; I went with white, as I plan to paint the Dickens out of these things.

I’ll keep you posted.

Layout ideas – Victoria

It’s great when you can combine two research trips into one. As you may or may not be aware, this isn’t my only blog – there’s also London Particulars, a blog about London in general. My last entry was on the subject of Victoria Station (it’s at http://londonparticulars.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/we-are-not-amused/). While I was poking around there, I came across the carriage sidings for the station, officially known as Grosvenor Carriage Shed. I’ve pictured them below, with apologies for my terrible photography skills:

Left side of the sidings. Behind those buildings is the main line out of Victoria, elevated prior to crossing the river.

Left side of the sidings. Behind those buildings is the main line out of Victoria, elevated prior to crossing the river.

The sidings themselves.

The sidings themselves.

The right side, from the road

The right side, from the road

 What I wasn’t able to get a photo of was the fact that these sidings back on to the Thames Embankment. That is to say, you’ve got sidings, road, river – an unusual combination which would be quite visually arresting on a model railway.

I actually think this would be a good subject for a micr0-layout. On all four sides of the sidings are natural scenic breaks – to the left, the main line. To the right, blocks of Victorian flats. Behind, the entrance to the carriage sheds. In front, the river. It would be a fine showcase for EMU models – I think I’d want to model it in the BR blue era. Extra interest might be gained from having a Class 08 doing a spot of shunting, perhaps with the help of a concealed traverser.

I think that if I were to model this location, I’d set it out so the trains face the spectators. We’re used to locations being modelled side-on, but I think this would be a fine opportunity to do something different. In front of the sidings would be the road (perhaps with a traffic jam – an excellent opportunity to display some road vehicles) and then the drop down to the river. I wouldn’t bother with the main line, but model the viaduct as a sort of “wall”, the illusion of a busy main line being created by sound effects. To the right, the blocks of flats would be created in low relief.

The road would require scenic breaks, which would be easy enough – on the left you’ve got the viaduct. There are a number of large, shady trees planted along the embankment, so by making one or two of these particularly large and shady you could create an “arch” for the road to disappear through.

Anyway, I present this more as inspiration than a full-blown plan. If it’s not of interest for a layout in itself, the site would make an interesting addition to a Southern Region layout with its two-level operation as trains come off the main line above into the sidings below.

Further reading

http://johnlawontherails.fotopic.net/c948870.html – John Law’s fascinating photo gallery of the area, including several shots of publicly inaccessible areas of Victoria and Grosvenor Carriage Shed.