Nicks workshop mutterings

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

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. 

Eggesford report

As I progress to rework the scenery the original painted plaster is really looking tired. Recently I have been revamping the area around the station and river. 

Considering the buildings are over 25 years old they are in remarkable condition and have needed very little work other than a repaint from Southern to LSWR livery. I have now done all the paintwork around the station as well as freshening up the surface of the platform as well as the road. The platform surface, as described before, has been done with talc sprinkled into wet Humbrol no. 40 gloss grey. This is the method described by Gordon Gravett in his marvellous book on modelling grassland; a book I would thoroughly recommend. The road surface is a lighter grey with chinchilla dust added to the wet paint. It still needs further weathering with weathering powders.

Goods shed with signal box in background. The grass is a mixture of long and short static grass. The road surface is the original and will eventually need some re-working. 


The next photo shows the original scenery in the foreground with the hill in the rear re-worked with scatter materials and new  hedging. The trees come from the original layout but have been freshened up with a dusting of new fine Woodlands scenic scatter. The second half of the river is waiting for a new coat of varnish similar to the bit seen in the distance.


I am really pleased with how the scenery is improving with relatively very little effort mainly due to having such a good base to start with. I am now looking forward to adding more details and atmosphere to the scenes. 

Eggesford progress

I have now finished the 3mm Society/Malcolm Mitchell kit of a Great Western 517 class tank which is now running on Eggesford with a rake of 4 wheel coaches which are also from 3mm Society kits.


The picture below shows a busy time at Eggesford which, I’m afraid, has become rather “Westernised”! The 517 can be seen on a Down local passenger with a  steam rail motor on an up service and a LSWR Ilfracombe goods shunting the yard


A Merry Christmas to all my readers. I look forward to progressing more in the New Year with reducing my store of flat pack kits!

Lakebank – update

As many will know, Lakebank was featured in the latest issue of Model Railway Journal, no. 250. Since it was published we have added more details to the scene. These include fencing along the edge of the lakeside, advertising around the station and steamer office and the appearance of the Swallow and the Amazon. 

These two dingies were made by making a balsa wood former for the hull and covering it in aluminium foil. Strips of cartridge paper were then glued with paper glue around the former, each one being overlapped to represent clinkers. When the whole had dried the former was removed. This was easy as the paper glue did not stick to the foil. The hull was then completed with seats etc using thin card. The mast is a thinned down cocktail stick and the sail is cut from paper and painted.  The details of the two dingies were found on a website devoted to all things ‘Ransome’. A Google search will find it. 


The next job will be to provide some more road vehicles and then to augment the freight wagon stock. 

517 has progressed

The loco is now looking like it should. I must admit that I haven’t put on every part that the 4 and 7mm models would have, as many of the etchings are so tiny I can’t see them!! I think the overall effect shows what delightful locos these were.


Now to clean the whole body up and get it painted then move on to the next flat pack. Also, looking at the track in the photos, I must get the ballasting finished on Eggesford. 

GWR 517 Class

I have at last made a start on those draws of flat packs that every modeller has! Quite a few years ago I bought a 3mm Society kit for a GWR 517 Class 0-4-2T. The kit is a Malcom Mitchell kit which has been reduced to 3mm scale. I have looked at with all the etches and pages of instruction many times and tended just to put it back in the box!! With the need for an early GWR tank loco I decided I had to take the plunge. 

Actually the kit is beautifully designed and all the parts fit together with very little if any fettling. However with all the tiny parts supplied as well as having to laminate two or three layers at times this is not a kit for the faint hearted. 

As can be seen from the photos I have assembled the chassis with society Finescale  wheels, a High Level gearbox and Mashimas motor to 14.2mm gauge. The body has got as far as the main structure and a trial fit of the boiler and firebox. The next step is the smoke box and then lots of fine detailing. The kit comes with white metal castings but I intend to turn up a brass dome and safety valve on the lathe.

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