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A while ago I wrote about the benefits of using modern techniques and processes, specifically laser cutters.  However I have sort of come to change my view on this a little recently. You see, if you are doing more than 1 thing that is the same then laser cutting can offer a distinct time-saving. If however what you are doing is pretty much bespoke then the extra effort is, I have concluded, not really worth it. Take my retaining walls for Brettell Road. I did draw up the larger one but it took for ever. It turned out to be much quicker and easier to just get some sheets of embossed plasticard and get stuck in! I have to admit those that protest on forums that laser cutting is cheating really don’t have a clue what they are talking about because it’s a lot, lot harder than the old way. large-retaining-wallsmall-retaining-wall

These walls use Slaters bricks and I have done the top row by cutting individual blocks from evergreen strip and gluing them in place. Even taking the time to do this (Which isn’t exactly taxing but is long-winded) these walls didn’t take all that long to do.


Wagon building continues and I have amassed a fair few now (probably enough for Brettell Road if I am honest). This is a diagram 1/019 BR medium goods wagon from the Parkside kit which, as is customary for their stuff, pretty much falls together out of the packet. The usual extra bits and bobs have been added to the underframe. opens

On the left a BR 13 ton steel open again from Parkside while on the right a 13 ton sand tippler from Red Panda. I originally built this for Amlwch but never actually ran it on that layout so it can go here instead. It’s good to see that the small but useful range of Red Panda kits have recently resurfaced from Parkside. jinty-in-the-rain

Finally this is pretty much what I hope Brettell Road will be all about, dark and wet! It’s always been my intention to depict a rainy  night somewhere in the Black Country and this is the first time I’ve really been able to get an image that illustrates what I am looking for.

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Doug Dickson
Doug Dickson
5 years ago


The ‘top row’ bricks/blocks, do they represent brick sized pieces [9 x 3’ish]or are they larger?

I ask because a.] they look very convincing b.]the old peepers aren’t what they were.

Best wishes,


Iain Robinson
5 years ago

Hi Jim,
you are so right about the laser cutting. I get some flak from folk for using the cameo cutter for repetitive awkward shapes, but in order to master the frankly perverse software you have to invest a lot of time and effort in learning a new skill to draw out the shapes in the first place, let alone getting to know the machine’s many idiosyncrasies! Your walls are super by the way! 🙂

Colin Parks
Colin Parks
5 years ago

Hi Jim,

Your walls and for that matter, the rest of the layout looks very nice indeed.

There does seem to be an advantage with using laser and silhouette cutters for repetitive tasks and manufacturing. But I’d agree with you that for one-offs, the trusty old craft knife takes a lot of beating – time-wise.

Using 3-D printers is another matter, as the high-end equipment can turn out parts suitable for masters to make lost wax or white metal castings. Is it cheating? Well, if it is your own work, how can it be?!

All the best,