Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Saggy Bottom

As there is not much to report by way of progress this week, I thought that it would be a good idea to begin a series of postings in which are featured certain sections of the layout that have neared completion. Now I realize that, on a layout of this size, we will probably never be able to claim that it is finished but, at least in some areas, we can say that most of the landscaping is done. 
Doing this will also afford the reader a closer look at various parts of the layout, something that is just not possible with the wider shots.
So, this week, I am featuring the end of the branch line that begins on Platform 4 at Sueston and which, then, dives down under the London Loop to emerge at the base of the viaduct. Due to it's location this area is somewhat concealed anyway so it does warrant a closer look I think, especially as I believe it is a really interesting part of the layout. 
After emerging from the long tunnel, the single line curves to the right and passes alongside a rock cutting before ending at a small station that, for reasons best known to ourselves, we have named Saggy Bottom Halt. 
For the station we used the Bachmann Market Hampton Halt and Pagoda Shed, both part of the Scenecraft Range and just perfect for what we wanted.
From here, walkers, climbers and campers can enjoy the beautiful countryside around the base of the viaduct. A stream flows under one of the eight arches and is just out of view to the right. To the left of the halt there is a footpath that leads into a deep, dark cave and, thanks to the skills of my nephew's girlfriend, we now have two climbers, making their way up the rock face above the cave.
It is intended that this branch line will be operated by a Hornby Class 121 and, in fact we do have one of these trains already but it is awaiting conversion to DCC. 
I promise to take more photographs of this part of the layout and include them in future postings.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nothing But Blue Skies

Well, okay, I will confess that I digitally added those blue skies to this photograph but I did just want to see what the scene might look like with a properly finished background. 
We will, in due course, most probably be adding a line of distant trees and some sky to the top of the rock face behind the Tipper Spur as I think this is a good way to finish off the backdrop. However, as I am sadly no artist, I will need to find a suitable landscape that I can photograph. to create a panorama similar to the one behind the Lake End branch at the other end of the layout. To be honest, I do think that a good photo does look much more realistic than a painted backdrop - especially one that I have painted!
Meanwhile, you can see that we have now added some fencing and bushes to the top of the embankment and this area is starting to look quite realistic now, especially when you get down to track level.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Under The Weather

We recently decided to have some of our pristine locomotives weathered in order to make them look a bit more realistic and the first one to be so treated was the Bachmann Class 37 37254.
This is one of our regular freight locomotives so she really needs to be a bit grimy and oily!  However, as we have never done any weathering ourselves, we chose to get the job done by someone who knew what they were doing so we took it to Mikron Models in Taunton.
Alex, who did the job for us, was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful and has done a great job, as you can see from the Before and After photographs below. 
Whilst we were at it, we also decided to change the number to make the loco more unique and that is why, instead of 37254, she is now Nº 37251. 
Although, apparently, the prototype locomotive spent much of her life wearing snowploughs so, in the pursuit of accuracy, we really ought to fit some to the Nº 1 end of our model.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

O Gauge

O Gauge refers to models of standard gauge prototypes that are constructed to a nominal scale of 7mm to 1ft and that run on 32mm gauge track. O Gauge models in both the UK and Europe comply to this standard and are built to a ratio of 1:43.5. American O Gauge models, meanwhile, conform to an imperial scale of ¼ in = 1ft. This gives a ratio of 1:48. O Gauge models are, therefore, around 1.75 times bigger than their OO Gauge cousins.

O Gauge was very popular prior to the second world war, however, after the war, OO/HO started to dominate the market. Fortunately, however, the larger scale never lost its appeal and, today, still has many supporters.

2-rail, clip together track is not commercially available in the UK but flexible track and pointwork is made by Peco. Also, British outline, ready to run locomotives and rolling stock used to be virtually non-existent but this situation is slowly improving through manufacturers such as Heljan, Bachmann and Bassett Lowke. ACE Trains also make some beautiful ready to run O Gauge models and there is a selection of British outline models made by Bachmann Brassworks. These come in both painted and unpainted form.

Despite the comparative lack of ready to run equipment there is quite an array of kit and accessory manufacturers. Many kits of both British steam and diesels locos are available in brass and white metal as is an ever-growing range of coach and wagon kits.

There is also a selection of parts for making your own track from scratch.

Building a layout and laying track in O Gauge is no more difficult than it is in the smaller scales. However, because a lot of models come in kit form, a certain degree of kit-building expertise is advisable. In this respect, O Gauge is probably suited to the more experienced modeller although this fact should not deter the more competent beginner from modelling in this scale.

As far as space requirements go O Gauge layouts do, generally, take up a lot of space and main line designs are best suited to a garden with, maybe, a terminus / fiddle yard housed in a shed or garage. Of course, indoor modellers can build minimum-space layouts designed around a branch line or small goods yard.

Although individual prices of O Gauge items are quite high a small layout will probably only need a couple of locos and a few items of rolling stock so, actually, it can often work out cheaper than a layout in OO or N Gauge. O Gauge could, therefore, be perfect for those on a limited budget.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bridging the Gap

Well, as you can see, we have now extended the walling across 'the gap' by facing the wood with some more of the Metcalfe Stone Wall M0050. This wall now follows on nicely from the bridge over the railway.

We have also 'erected' some fencing on either side of the road that leads up to the bridge and, here, we used Dapol C023 Fencing and Gates - but without the gates!

There are eight sections of fencing per pack (each about 5 inches long) plus two gates and, once painted, they do look very realistic. 

We shall be using this to continue the fencing on the other side of the bridge and along the far side of the road across the gap. We might also use it around our grassy hill, which we have yet to name.

We now just have to think of a way of, neatly, adding white lines to the road so any suggestions will be gratefully received!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This week we decided that we just couldn't put off doing the road bridge any longer! So we set to and faced it (in more ways than one) with stone card using Metcalfe Stone Wall sheets plus some of the Metcalfe Paving Stones as capping. It was a fiddly and time consuming job but at least it looks more in-keeping than the bare wood and it now matches the road bridge at the other corner of the London Loop. 
You will also notice the addition of a fine looking fire engine standing outside of the fire station. This should, of course, be parked inside the building but it is much too good to be hidden away. It is a model of a Dennis F12 from the Corgi Trackside range of vehicles. 
Apparently 336 of these tenders were built between 1950 and 1959 and were operated by over 90 British brigades plus 6 brigades overseas. It would appear that one of those British brigades is right here at Petersfield where the crew, quite clearly, look after their vehicle very well indeed.