Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tunnel Corner

early photograph of tunnel corner
The tunnel entrance to the layout came about from the concept I had used on Rogie Falls. I had one major problem, I can't hide the fiddle yard, so I was looking for a way to introduce the layout as just the scenic boards and not the entire area needed for a model railway. The tunnel creates a boundary for viewers, anything to the right of the tunnel entrance is non scenic, everything to the left offers scenic viewing.

It's original concept was to offer an old windmill as the first piece of the scene, however this often looked silly, and, it spoilt the back scene which, I had hand painted for me. As you'll see, I have now incorporated a track path walk from the station through a yard and into a copsed area prior to it leading out into the meadows beyond. Personally I think the idea works with the concept with the back scene, but only you can judge for yourself...


Normally you would try and use different levels to build the scene, this offers height and distance. As my track bed is all on the same level, I have had to try and build perspective distance into the scene by using the height of the actual layout, it stand around 4 1/2 ft high, so eye level viewing is offered with ease for most people.

Polystyrene boards/tiles offer a great modelling oppertunity, allowing you to create different heights and curves in the scenic concept. The tunnel itself offers some height to the layout, as does the incorporation of the back scene in the same area. As the back scene was painted prior to the main scenic design, I have had to make the modelling fit the back scene rather than the other way around.

For new comers a word of warning - model railways are expensive!

As you may see from the link to the photographs, the scene itself has developed greatly, it's a question of slowly slowly rather than rushing into the building stages of scenic modelling. Once the basic concept had been developed in my mind, I began using the models to set the scene out prior to finalising the positioning.

There are different focal poits to all my scenes, something for everyone, the first attraction is the tunnel mouth, only viewed from a certain angle. Then the standing stones, the path leading in and out of the scene and finally the two main sets of figures, looking towards the track and 'valley of the track bed'.

You'll also see I have included two 'adult' figures hidden behind the rocks, this was something I liked about model railways, first viewed on a Gauge O layout many years back. The idea to make the layout fun for all is the concept, but innuendo plays a part in scenic modelling as you'll see over the coming months.

I used a polystyrene tile as the base for the copse, this allows a little extra height, and allows the base board to the left of the scene to be lower. Next I used modrock and then plastered it, (see tip on modelling plaster), this allowed a good solid base for adding scenic materials. Prior to adding any scenic kits you need to give the base a coat of paint, this acts as a base colour for anything you're putting over it like flock. The key to building scenes is to have an overall picture of what you want at the end and then build in stages.

Once painted an earth colour, this does not need to be pure brown, a mixture of colours helps, darker for earth and lighter for rock faces. Use a mix variation of colours, this helps reflect real life colours, nothing is just one pure colour in landscapes. Also use variations of flock, colour is important at this stage, variations of green and earth colours help produce to effect when viewed from a distance.

Using a mixture of watered down PVA glue, (see tip on glue), I scattered the area with my path, then topped it up once down with more glue and more sprinkling of scenic materials used for the path. I've used 'N' gauge ballast here, as was the entire track bed ballasted in 'N' gauge materials. Once completed I allowed it to dry, next came the flock, two different greens and one brown used, also created paths across the grassy areas, leading in different directions from the main path itself.

Coloured flock creates the flowers and hedging is made from rubberised horse hair, cut to size and then covered in dark green and coloured flock for effect. The fencing was put in with small amounts of plaster with added PVA for strength, once cemented in I cleaned off the surplus and left to dry. I repainted the fencing, this time covering the ground and the added more flock to hide the areas of plaster.

My next job was adding the trees, this can be really expensive, trees are not cheap, so be warned. Again I used a darker green under the trees with some brown thrown in, this creates the shading. My last job was to add the people, it's always personal choice, but I always feel a train spotter is needed somewhere, and of course the scene from The Railway Children is always nice to recreate. I added the courting couple as an extra, I've still got a few changes to make with this, but need to buy the kits for added scenic value.

(the next section will be the yard through to the copse)

Cleaning a Plastic Kit

One of the most common problems new modellers face is painting their first kit, the prepartion secret to painting it is to wash the entire kit whilst on the spru in warm soapy water, this then removes the grease.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Sunset at the Commando Memorial Spean Bridge
If you're interested in photography, you can view my on-going collection at Picasa.
The Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge.
Nr: Ben Nevis, Fort William
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The Beginning

02nd October 2008
Briers Grove was an idea I had some years back in London, of course I would have preffered a run-round layout, but as space allowed, an end-to-end layout was the reserved choice and I wanted something to offer a little more than just running a couple of locos.

I was introduced to railway modelling by a collegue, Keith Plum, Enfield Town MRC, he introduced me to the club and my interests took off. I'd always been into military modelling, there's some on that later in the blog, but the concept of building a model railway had never entered my head, due to my lack of wiring knowledge, I'm still no good at wiring layouts, but I do love scenic modelling as you'll discover as the blog progresses.

4th October 2008
My first layout was a small 8ft x 2ft end-to-end, named Rogie Falls, a place on the road to Garve in the Highlands. If was never modelled on Rogie Falls, I just took the name. If i can find the photographs I'll put them up. The model as it's name suggests was based on a waterfall, with a single track running under the mountain end of the layout through to a double track as it passed some private property and a riverside walk, there was no station, just a halt and a scenic location.

I had incorporated cheap kits to keep the costs low, secondhand stuff made up much of basic layout and I progressed to buying new kits that took my fancy. My main point I tried to make when building the layout was to keep it fun and more viewable for the general public, (it was intended to be an exhibition layout).

As I am very tall I hated operating layouts that made me bend too much, so my layout was built for my hight, but this allowed the viewing public a better view of the layout, for some it was eye-level viewing. One member, Laurie, decided it was too tall for him and used a small step-ladder to view the layout, much to the amusement of us all - but the point is that model railways are always viewed from on high which, does not give the best view.


Briers Grove came about when I moved up to the Highlands, I'd had a small layout whilst in London and felt the time was right to move on to a bigger project. Unfortunately as my interests in other areas developed, so my layout got neglected, until recently, (sept '08).

My interests in photography had become dominant, prior to that computing, or rather the building and maintaining of computers. That has all changed, except the photography side, you will see the development of the model railway layout and photography side by side.

The Briers Grove Blog will also include modelling techniques, photographs and anything I can find that suits this blog, so keep me logged on your favourites and pop back every couple of weeks or so, I should have some updates, at least once a month.