Nicks workshop mutterings

Various railway orientated modelling projects in my new workshop/railway room.

Lananta-more progress

The last few weeks has seen some definite progress. I have made and installed the basics of the lime kilns which are now waiting for foliage and detailing. I have also added the final sand surface to the estuary ready for detailing with water, mud and weed etc.

I have purchased some dinghys in cast resin. These are made by Quaycraft and purchased through Cornwall model boats. Two will be drawn up on the beach and the third will be the tender to the sailing smack.

Finally I have finished a mock up in pencil of the backscene, which now awaits painting-;

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Exhibition success 

Recently got back from the Thorncombe show having shown 50 x 50 Shades of Grey. Thorncombe is a village in the middle of nowhere near Axminster in Devon but has a well attended, guirky show run for charity by the local rail enthusiasts group.

I was very pleased to get the Chairman’s Award for excellence in modelling and expertise for Shades of Grey!


Makes all the effort of modelling and exhibiting worthwhile. 

Lananta- further planning progress

Having sorted out one end of the layout (see last post) I have now turned my attention to the right hand end as viewed from the front.

I have taken Fremington on the old LSWR line from Barnstaple through to Instow and Bideford as my inspiration. This originally was an extension of the North Devon Railway. There were lime kilns here accessed by a foot bridge over the railway. Lime was loaded into horse drawn carts and taken away around the shore.



Also Fremington Pill runs into the sea here and the railway passes over. I have modelled a timber bridge with a muddy creek and have included a rotting hulk as well;


I now feel I have the potential for a number of interesting scenarios along the length of the cameo and plan to break the view up into small parts with suitable view blockers. 

Now to get modelling as winter draws on……….

Lananta- September progress

I have now turned my attention to planning the scenery of the layout. I recently purchased Paul Bambrick’s book on Creating a Backscene and have been inspired by the ideas he puts forward. I do not have enough space for a full 3D backscene but will have to make do with a 2D one but intend to try to blend it with the 3D modelling of the base boards. Following his ideas I have started to mock up the scenery around the scenic break at the left hand side of the scene. I decided to have a bridge here which initially I positioned straight across the end but found that if I skewed it, then I could blend it more with the curved backscene and also block the view into the fiddle yard more easily. I have also printed out some pictures of the rolling hills and fields near where I live to get an impression of the backscene and to determine where the horizon needs to be in relation to the viewing height of the layout and the lighting bar. Eventually I will paint the backscene, up to the horizon, on card which will be mounted in front of the rear framing of the boards leaving a space to slip the printed sky sheet in between the two. This sky sheet takes the back scene up to the full height needed in relation to the lighting bar in order to frame the whole scene.


Now to start construction……….

Lananta progress 2

It seems a long time since I last posted but now some further progress has been made. The main job has been building and laying the mixed gauge point to the two sidings on the quay and wiring up the layout and ironing out the bugs in the trackwork. 

The point was layed on a Templot template. The rail is bridge section rail. This is the 4mm version supplied by the Broad Gauge Society. It is based on a lightweight prototype and seems fine for 3mm scale. I have used it successfully on previous Broad Gauge layouts. 4mm wide copper clad strip glued to the base is used to represent the timber baulks and the rail is soldered to it. On the timber trestle part of the quay I laid strips of 1mm plywood across the quay interspersed with copper clad strip every six strips to which the rail was soldered. When it had all been layed the wooden transomes were represented with strips of 40 x 40 thou plastic strip. Finally all the baulks, sleepers and rail have been painted with Railmatch sleeper grime. The final step will be to add some weathering and then ballast but that will wait until the scenery has been done.


Point actuation is done manually via a rod through the front of the board. This moves a combined tiebar, just under the surface of the track base, with a cosmetic tiebar seen from the top of the point. It is based on an idea used by the 2mm association – see drawing below;


This is constructed with plasticard and the holes in the tiebar part of it accept dropper wires from the point blades. Adjustable stops on the operating rod control the limits of operation. They are made from electrical chocolate blocks.


Wiring is very simple with a 16v ac supply coming in at the back and the controller plugging into a DIN plug on the end of the left hand board. The micro switch controls the polarity of the frogs and isolation of the sidings is done by the position of the point. Power is transferred between the two boards by wires connected to the two split hinges that connect the boards. Likewise power to the two fiddle yards is fed via the two clips at each end that hold the fiddle yard to the main board.

After some fettling I now have trains running the length of the layout and in and out of the quay!! Now to start the fun bit in actually creating the scene……..

Lananta progress 1

For a challenge I have entered Lananta into the cameo competition launched in the Model Railway Journal recently. I have completed a lighting bar with LED strip which is mounted just forward of the front of the boards. I addition I have added a removable, roll up back scene to complete the cameo look. This brings the back scene higher up than the back frame of the boards. I shall use the back scene to set the limits of the scenery in front, In addition I have made two small trestles to raise up the level of the boards above the tables they will sit on together with raised supports fro the fiddle yards;


Track laying has started with the main branch line. The track is mixed gauge and is laid using 3mm Society Finescale track. Lengths of 14.2mm track were made up using the society track panels. The sleepers on one side were reduced by 2mm and then further lengths were made up and cut along the inside edge of the mounded chairs, This brought the third rail track gauge out to 21mm. Copper cold strip is soldered across between every other panel to hold the whole lot in gauge and was then glued down with PVA;


When it is all painted and ballasted the joins shouldn’t be noticed.

Finally I have realigned the sidings on the wharf to narrow it down. This gives a more pleasing look and allows the boat to be moved so it helps disguise the join in the boards. I have also moved the station to the left to avoid a join in the platform over the joint.. You  will notice that work has begun on the trestles supporting the quay as well as the bridge over the creek which had to be done before any track can be laid. There is much more detailing to be done later. 


Eggesford signalling

I have now got around to reinstalling the signals on Eggesford. The late Jeremy Dixon had fully working signals using hand made controls. These consisted of a magnet attached to a small length of brass tube whic was made to slide up and down via a crank attached to an old Triangle TT point motor;


A fairly crude but very effective mechanism. The end of the operating wire from the signal has a soft iron end which is attracted by the magnet when it drops and is pushed up when it rises.

I have removed the old solenoid and replaced it with a servo which is operated by Heathcote servo boards;


The operating wire for the servo board is fed back to the locking lever frame and we now have fully interlocked points and signals. Below shows. The UP stater in situ with the DOWN inner home in the distance. 


Now I can play proper trains!!

Lananta-the boards

I have now made the basis of the boards. I have used some 25mm thick extruded polystyrene left over from a previous layout. The areas for the seashore and creek have been  routed and carved out(a really messy job!) and glued into a frame made of 6mm plywood and 12mm plywood for the ends between the two boards. The boards are connected using split hinges and aligned with dowels set into the 12mm ends. The track bed including the deck for a small bridge and trestles to the dock have been laid with 1mm plywood. The two boards have been designed to fit into a plastic box for transport;



Two supports for cassettes clip onto each outer end using interlocking clips designed for hanging pictures and mirrors;


The split hinges between the two boards and the clips on each of the cassette supports will be used to carry power across the joints, eliminating the need for plugs, sockets and cables. 

Here the complete layout can be seen;


The next stage will be to build the small bridge across the creek on the right and the treastles to go under the quay deck with some initial work on plastering the river bed before stating on laying track. The plan is to have cross sleeper track on the main branch and bulk road with bridge rail on the quay. The bridge rail has been salvaged from the dismantling of Bagborough West. 

Lananta- a new planned compact layout

Not another one you may say! Since I dismantled my first Broad Gauge layout- Bagborough West- I have no where to run my Broad Gauge stock. My permanent layout – Eggesford- is only standard gauge as is my small shunting layout- Shades of Grey. 

I decided to make a small, compact layout which could easily be run at home and be available for exhibiting. I have decided that this will be my last exhibition standard layout after over 30 years of showing.

The plan is based on Lelant sidings on the St Ives branch from St Erth to St Ives. This was the last Broad Gauge branch to be built by the he GWR and the first part as far as Lelant was built with mixed gauge to serve sidings to a wharf on the river. Lananta is the old Cornish name for Lelant. The inspiration comes from a layout built in 7mm by John Hewlett, the Trade Officer of the Broad Gauge Society. 

The two main boards are 700mm x 300mm and are designed to go in a plastic box for transportation. The inspiration for this comes from the layouts of Maurice Hopper which he fits in a smallish box which he can transport by public transport. For more information see his blog on RM Web. My box is a bit bigger and wont go on public transport but on the other hand it won’t take up all the space in the car!

Here is a picture of the actual station at Lelant;


Below I show a plan of the proposed layout and a picture of a half size model I have made to see if it will work;


The sailing smack ‘Mary’ (see my last posting) will be alongside the wharf. The wharf itself is based on one that used to be in the middle of Newquay harbour which is shown in a few old photographs of the harbour;


I hope to blog more on the construction as I progress,

Now for something completely different!

As a departure from railway modelling I have been building a model of a trading smack. This will eventually be the centrepiece of a new, small layout I intend to build but more about that later.

The smack ‘Mary’ was built in Truro in 1875 and was designed initially for the South Cornwall stone trade. With her broad width, shallow draught and flat bottom she was ideal for coastal waters and getting up rivers and creeks. I found plans on a web site which unfortunately is now no longer on line and there are some good pictures of a model of her on the site of the Royal Greenwich Museum.

I was inspired to build her after reading Gordon Gravett’s article on building a gravel barge in Model Railway Journal issues 212 and 213 in 2012. His model is built to 7mm scale whereas mine is to my usual 3mm scale. I have made the hull with an odd bit of extruded polystyrene which after shaping was covered with planking made from strips of cartridge paper( similar to the method described by Gordon). The mast, booms and bowsprit are from cocktail sticks and kebab sticks. 


She has been modelled with a full hull as the plan is to have her tied up to a small quay and sitting in the mud as the tide is out.

This was fun to build and hopefully captures the look of a typical coastal sailing smack. 

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