On The Drawing Board

For discussion of the issues faced when building a model or layout - how to replicate wood, what glues to use, exactly how much weathering can a Gnat take, a good source of detailing accessories - you get the picture, I'm sure.

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Bilco
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On The Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:03 pm

There seems to be a vogue for announcing new layouts at the moment, so I may as well make mine! I was recently given an old drawing board to build a layout on – it measures 70cm x 50cm, and is made of some surprisingly light wood. The wood is also quite soft, and the drawing surface has a few dings and the odd corner rounded, which is why it's come to me. Now I have the chance to build something to run my ludicrous locos and weird wagons on!

My aim is to have a simple track plan – no turnouts, turn tables sector plates, just a U of track, with the train entering at left rear, running along the back, swinging around a curve to run along the front onto the automatic tipper, then running back. There will have to be some sort of external fiddle yard to hold a small train out of sight, as I want to get the maximum visible trackage possible. It will be a chance to try some scenic effects as much as operation.

I'll post the odd progress report for the general amusement of the Forum.

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The drawing board - it's obviously had a hard life - and life is about to get harder!
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Postby More_Cats_Than_Sense » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:08 pm

Simple plans are good :D Looking forward to seeing what you do with the idea/plan :D
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Postby Oztrainz » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:15 pm

Hi Bill, if you are after a cheap bin loader for your hoppers, have look for Lifelike's HO Operating Coal Tipple #6800. The timbers are overscale for HO but would look suitably spindly in G.
Welcome to the "Gnu U" Layouts subgroup :lol:
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Re: On The Drawing Board

Postby Steve Bennett » Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:08 pm

Bilco wrote:My aim is to have a simple track plan – no turnouts, turn tables sector plates, just a U of track, with the train entering at left rear, running along the back, swinging around a curve to run along the front onto the automatic tipper, then running back.


Sounds quite prototypical, the track layout on industrial lines is often as simple as that, just going from A to B, is all that a lot of them do. In the real world, they dont use turnouts or turntables, unless they really need them. At least the wiring is going to be simple :wink: . An added bonus, you wont have a need to couple or uncouple, thats one headache sorted :lol: .
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Re: On The Drawing Board

Postby DCRfan » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:01 am

Steve Bennett wrote: In the real world, they dont use turnouts or turntables, unless they really need them. At least the wiring is going to be simple :wink: .


He will still need at least two wires, more it there is an isolating section. Wots simple about that :?: - 50% of getting them rong :wink:

Looking forward to the LL&WW (Ludicrous Locos and Weird Wagons
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Re: On The Drawing Board

Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:01 am

DCRfan wrote:
Steve Bennett wrote:He will still need at least two wires, more it there is an isolating section. Wots simple about that :?: - 50% of getting them rong :wink:


Thats an easy one to sort out, if it is wired the wrong way, turn the controller upside down, bingo, problem solved :lol:
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Re: On The Drawing Board

Postby shortliner » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:36 pm

Steve Bennett wrote:
DCRfan wrote:
Steve Bennett wrote:He will still need at least two wires, more it there is an isolating section. Wots simple about that :?: - 50% of getting them rong :wink:


Thats an easy one to sort out, if it is wired the wrong way, turn the controller upside down, bingo, problem solved :lol:


AKA the antipodean solution :idea: - hang on, aren't they upside down in that part of the world anyway? :lol: :roll:

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Re: On The Drawing Board

Postby Glen A » Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:21 pm

shortliner wrote:
Steve Bennett wrote:Thats an easy one to sort out, if it is wired the wrong way, turn the controller upside down, bingo, problem solved :lol:


AKA the antipodean solution :idea: - hang on, aren't they upside down in that part of the world anyway? :lol: :roll:


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:lol: :lol:

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On the Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:22 pm

Well, there is some progress to report, with something produced that looks like it might be a layout one day. The first task was to raise up the track, so that the tippers can tip stuff down into something. The material I chose to do the raising with was florists foam – the gray-brown non-absorbent stuff for use with dried flowers. I found a place on the Internet where I could get a box of 20 'bricks' 9"x4"x3" for under £13 – I think the box weighed more than the foam! The foam blocks are easily damaged, so careful handling is required, but they can bear quite a weight if it is spread over an area.

I started to stick the foam to the board with Instant Nails, as recommended on the web site, and found that they were quite rigid once the stickum had dried. I began at the back, laying the bricks on edge to raise the track by 4", and worked my way towards the front over the next couple of days. I staggered the joints like laying brickwork, but found that the blocks are rather 'nominal' in the measurements, so there were a few gaps to be bridged by the Instant Nails. There will be a roadway at the front of the board, so the blocks stopped short there.

Image

The first row of foam blocks stuck down

Image

Blocks laid with staggered joints, and gaps apparent

Once the blocks were firmly down, dried and leveled, I cut out a trackbed from a piece of hardboard I found in the back of the garage, and stuck that on top with more Instant Nails. It was well weighted down with some bricks, and left to dry over a couple of days. The plan is for the terrain to start high at the left rear, to mask the entry point of the track, and fall towards the right front. There will be track on piers running alongside the road for the tipping, and the curved section of track will run on an embankment. The remaining bricks were used to build up the contours above track level at the back, and the line of the final ground levels marked on the sides.

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Trackbed of hardboard stuck down.

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More blocks to build up the contours above rail level. Some small pieces will be needed to fill in between levels for a smooth surface.

The next job will be to carve the blocks to form the relief. I suspect that it will be a messy job, so gloves will be worn. The web site says that the foam particles sting like fury if they get in your eyes, so goggles will be required. Once the foam has been shaped it will be sealed with PVA and back and side boards will be fitted to protect the blocks. The sealing will be necessary to keep particles of foam from getting into everything, and then I can put down a layer of ground cover – but I get ahead of myself.
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Postby Steve Bennett » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:58 am

Wish I had known you were heading in this direction Bill. Having used both kinds of Florist Foam for scenery before, I would have recommendef the green version inteaded to store water for fresh flowers, it is a much better material for this kind of project. Having said that, both types work well and I'm sure you will get good results.

You may well have discovered this already, but if not take care where the glue has joined the blocks together, when shaping it. It is easy for a knife to just pull the glue and a chunk of foam away, rather than cutting through it. A useful knife for shaping, is the snap off blade variety, with the blades extended all the way out. They are quite flexible and allow you to carve curves and hollows into the foam.

Good luck, I'm sure it will look great in a few days time :wink:
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On the drawing board

Postby Bilco » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:33 pm

Progress continues, although not at the pace of Simplicity Sidings! On the blocks of foam - thanks for the thought, Steve, I did ponder over the choice and thought the dry ones would be firmer. Never mind.

I've done a lot of shaping of the landscape. The first, rough shaping was done with a bread knife, making sure that mai laidy waif was out shopping while I did it. Finer carving was done with a 1" woodworking chisel, which is controllable and cuts easily. The texture of the foam is odd – a bit like an overdone sponge cake under the bread knife, and like damp sand with the chisel. It wasn't as messy as I feared - although I wore a facemask for the finer work, the particles tended to cling to the body of the foam and not fly around. The surface is very easy to damage, so some care is needed.

Image

The layout from the front - the bottom right hand corner still needs some work.

Image

End view. It's odd how the colour of the foam varies depending on whether the block is on the narrow edge or the wider one.

Image

Other end. The white bits are the Instant Nails that fixed the blocks together - as you say, Steve, care is needed when you hit these. I've used more to fill in the damage from tearing the foam.

The aim was to produce smooth slopes rather than rock faces, and the end result is close to what I envisaged. I have a little more of the artisticals to do, then I'll seal the whole surface with PVA and start building the ground cover. Hours of fun!
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Postby Steve Bennett » Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:30 pm

Must admit, it is a nice material to work with and you very quickly learn how to work it. Not sure if you have tried it, but for smoothing, the best tools are your fingers, you can just rub away to get a really smooth finish. Also good for indentations, just push in and then rub to the right shape. Have not used the grey stuff much, but always found with the green variety, that a spray of water before putting a covering on was beneficial, keeps the dust down aswell :wink:

Sorry, forgot to mention, it is taking shape very nicely :oops:
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On The Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:08 pm

Just to show that I haven't entirely wasted the Bank Holiday, here are a few piccys of progress. The florists' foam has been sealed and the gaps between the blocks filled, ready for some ground cover, and I've made a start on the back and right side scenery.

Image

A photoflat spans the back of the layout, though I might put a little 3D into it.


Image

The right side has a building with a bit more depth to it. Once the windows and doors have been added it will just about be done.


Image

An overall view. The addition of the buildings gives the whole thing the sense of scale that I was missing. The bomb craters are where the uprights for the tipper will go.

Of course, the main thing missing so far is the railway!. The story is that there are various light industries built into the hillside, and the railway comes to the rear of them, on a steep bit of waste ground, to tip product into lorries/trailers on a lower road. Lots of rust and scrap, and a sense of different ground levels is what I'm after. Time will tell if I achieve it!
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Postby Glen A » Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:28 pm

Wow, the buildings in the background have really transformed it.

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Re: On The Drawing Board

Postby Willow Creek Traction » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:01 pm

Bilco wrote:Time will tell if I achieve it!

Think "when" you cahieve it :D

Hey, great name for that business.
later, Forrest Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. -- Nikola Tesla, July, 1934

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Postby Steve Bennett » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:09 pm

Very nice Bill, the buildings make a big difference. They kinda contain the scene and concentrate the attention into the layout, almost like an arena.
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Postby franckcombe » Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:32 pm

bilco,

your layout is very nice. You seem to make a good used of my link to for the building wood bros limited. I intend to use this building in my next layout.
Does this building look very good as background ?

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On the Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:52 pm

Many thanks for the comments - I was surprised at the difference having the building made in my feeling of the scale of things!

Franck - I think the link to CG Textures has been on the Forum before - certainly, I have had it bookmarked for quite a while, and had the Wood Bros building earmarked for use. I downloaded the large version and, once I had it saved, used Paintshop Pro to make it into 3 sections - left, right and center - with a bit of an overlap between them. I could then print out each section, making the image size to suit the backdrop - in my case total length 74cm, height 20cm. I set my printer to Best Quality, and gave each image a Sharpen before printing.

The results were fixed onto 2mm board with Spraymount. I overlapped each section, cut through the overlap and removed the unwanted bits to make a clean, close join. It worked with the left/center join but the center/right join is a bit more visible, but this might be because the image is very dark at that point. The result is very acceptable, though as I said, I might make it a bit 3D by printing sections like the door again, mounting them on card and fixing them over the image.

The brickwork on the right side is also from the CG Texture files, I copied the downloaded section and copy/pasted enough repeats to cover an A4 sheet at the right scale for the brick size. I printed it onto thick paper with a rough surface texture for a better surface, although it isn't that noticeable. The sheets are Spraymounted onto foamboard. The windows I'll use are adaptations of some that Michael posted on the Forum some time ago.

Hours of fun!
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Postby franckcombe » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:36 am

thanks for all the details.

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On The Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:35 pm

Just a bit more on the CG Textures I've used.:-

Image

A shot of the Wood Bros building as printed. The shadows give some 3D effect


Image

With the door and its track reprinted and mounted on thicker card to give more of a 3D look.


Image

A bit more work done on the right hand building windows.
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On the Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:39 pm

I see it's some 6 weeks since my last posting on this. I seem to have been fiddling about with bits and pieces since then, trying out various ideas and techniques. I also got myself a new digital camera - 7 mega-whoosits versus the old 3.2. I've just about broken myself of the habit of bringing a non-existent viewfinder up to my eye and wondering why I can't see anything, but the piccys are nice.

Anyway - some progress can be reported. On the groundwork, I've given the florist's foam a couple of coats of some stuff called artists Texture Paste, which is a thick white goo that can be painted on with a brush. I mix it with some chocolate-coloured paint from a tester pot to give a vaguely earthy coating. It makes a hard but flexible skin but you can still push down into the foam if you want to alter the surface a bit.

Image

An end-on view of the layout, showing the texture paste coating.


I've also done a bit to the right hand side factory building - the last picture in my past post shows it it a very early stage. Now I've added doors, a vent and some down-pipes, as well as painting a name along the top, adding some signage and doing some weathering. It looks a bit more like what I have in mind.

Image

The factory building with added bits. With the spivvy new camera you can enlarge the photo to the point where you can read the Fire Alarm sign on the left.


Another bit of progress is with some steel pilings to support the embankment where it comes to the tipping dock. There is a sort of wing back from the abutment which needed some sort of facing. I made the piling in a sheet with bits of plasticard, then worked up a rough, rusty surface finish.

Image

The piling, looking like it might be meant to be rusty steel if you squint a bit.

All I have to do now is put all these bits together. Some trackwork might be nice, too - it is supposed to be a railway.

:oops:
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Postby Simon Andrews » Sat Oct 04, 2008 3:19 pm

Great progress with the buildings. The relief and details that you have added are very effective 8)

Simon.
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Postby Jon Randall » Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:17 pm

Great sheet piles Bill. I would never had thought of making them that way.
Gnice details on the building too.
Look forward to seeing the track work.
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Postby Glen A » Sat Oct 04, 2008 7:14 pm

The sheet piles look very effective, and you have got them a very realistic colour too.
How did you do the name on the building? Is it cut out and glued on, or transfers, or stencilled, or what?

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On the Drawing Board

Postby Bilco » Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:38 pm

Hi Glen - basically, I printed some letters out on the computer, then used that as a guide to faintly pencil the outlines, went over the pencil lines with a white gel pen, then filled in the letters with thinned white acrylic. It didn't take as long as I thought it would, and turned out rather better than I feared! :)
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