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No going back now! part 2

Well the engineering works, true to form, over ran and took a bit longer than I expected. However the mini people of Brierley Hill will be pleased to hear that services can resume.I used to be a fan of the JLTRT track colour spray paint but as that range is long gone now and my last can was pretty much done for an alternative was required.  Halfords do a ‘camouflage’ range of very matt colours in their rattle cans and the brown is ideal as a basic track colour. The completed track ballasted and weathered from under the bridge. The blocks on the right are for the point rodding and I haven’t fitted the point motors yet. The left hand end from the other side of the bridge. I have a couple of ground signals to add yet. And the right hand end.  This is the end that required the most adjustment of whats already there. The bridges over the canal have been adapted to fit in their new locations.  I still have a bit of work to bed them in properly and I intend to fit a couple of central girders between the tracks on both levels. The nearer buffer stop has been repositioned slightly and a new bridge built.  I decided to angle it a little and do a bit of scruffy road to go behind it. Old meets new!

No going back now! Part 1

It seems that the good folk of Brierley Hill need to rely on buses for a while……Brettell Road is currently somewhat disrupted!    Work progressing on the plan to double track the layout.   One of the advantages of designing a layout on a computer and having a friendly laser cutting chap is you can design bits to replace things you really should have thought more about the first time!

Ive talked before about the regret at not making the layout a double track and I’ve also touched on using MDF as a trackbed which turned out to be a tad too unstable. The main lines have been replaced with 6mm ply and a hole cut for it to sit in.  Pictures of Brettell Lane in the period show some encroachment of flat bottom trackwork but in the form of pointwork. Further down the line, north of Dudley the Midland lines were also flat bottom in the period I am modelling and since Brettell road has always been more Midland anyway I decided to go with flat bottom trackwork for the plain lines.  Specifically mills clips courtesy of Colin Craig. (the actual clips will be added after testing.

Chains of slips under bridges all seem oddly familiar for some reason!  Like my other model nothing in this one is straight either!

Thanks to Colin and Tim for their assistance in supplying bits.


Afraid there’s nothing new in this post, just tweaks of things already seen. Ok so you can’t see this one really but in testing the parcels stock shown last time, this point wasn’t as reliable as I liked.   I have a view that all stock should go everywhere and while the parcels stuff probably wont run over this point at shows. it did show up the problem. To be honest its always been not quite right so having tracked down the problem to the nearest point blade the old one was removed and a new one filed up and put in its place.   The old one and a few dead chairs can be seen in the ballast and I thought why not let the layout have a bit of its own history, so they are now firmly glued there.Looking the other way nothing more than a bit of oily track.  After the initial coats of track grime and gunmetal I treated it with AK interactive wet effect and engine oil.   At the recent Derby Show (where we were showing Moor Street) my friend and fellow layout operator Paul pointed out that railcar 14 had lamp irons on the nose. I dunno how I missed this.  So given that I hadn’t sorted the horns either (should be 4 not 2) I have set to work.  I also found that there were cab end handrails and Dapol had missed the double door handrails as well.  Another small tweak that I’ve been meaning to do is to sort out the cab side windows on the class 20.  The original Bachmann ones slid open and like most RTR gimmicks were a bit naff.  So using a spare pair of window frames from Extreme Etches that I had lying around I’ve fixed this little bug bear. My Derby lightweight was always a bit of a rush job for Scaleforum.  The gap between the vehicles being much too big was the main eyesore! Closed up and a masokits gangway fitted. Another problem was that the on board lights lit up the cab.  Some simple blinds from black paper resolved that. Moving on to the warehouse. I’ve finished the guttering and added a low handrail along the top of the wall.  Although Brettell Road is set well before the health and safety culture we have now there was still a reasonable chance of a driver falling off the wall! A bit of the gutter has fallen off at some point.  So some water stains and higher weeds below are the results.

Weathering track – some thoughts

One topic that seems to come up fairly regularly on forums and Facebook groups is weathering track. I thought I’d do a mini article on my thoughts and how I approach this subject. As always other methods apply.

The prototype

As with any modelling activity you need to look at the real thing if you want to copy it. You don’t necessarily need to understand it and the advice model what you see, not what you think you know applies. If you are modelling a real place then the jobs pretty much done for you but it pays to look at references as close as you can to the timescale you are modelling. Even when track is brand new it actually isn’t. this was taken a few days after they relayed the eastern end of new street.  Note the use of wooden sleepers, not all brand new track uses concrete or steel sleepers. The rails are very rusty and there’s already evidence of the trains using it. The visible colours of he pandrol clips wont last long. Some plain flat bottomed track that to any modeller would be considered clean. things to note are the welds where it was joined, the rail colour has spread to the sleepers in places and some of the ballast is on top of the sleepers. I’ve found when it come to track being really neat isn’t always he best thing.  Its subtle but look at how the 2 rails are not the same colour. The inside face seems dustier than the outside. The weather changes things – the rails look very dark because they are wet. The wetness seems to mask some of the subtleties seen in the previous picture. Around points things have to move and as such they are greased. Note how the grease from the rod passing under the rail has manages to creep onto the web of the rail above it?  The rail dust is visible around the baseplates and the third rail is a completely different colour to the running rails. I include this picture because it illustrates an important point. 2 tracks can be side by side and look different. There are many reasons for this. The tracks might be different ages. The trains might be doing something different depending on the direction they are going. If they are braking then there will be more brake dust. The trains themselves might be different too, loaded freight trains that carry loose material do tend to drop things and push dust along with them.  If your line had a heavy use of a particular type of train then the material itself can affect the look of the track and distort its colouring.  Also track weathering is directional. As the trains move along they tend to push any dust or debris along with them. As we run on the left in the UK the left hand line will tend to look the dirtier of the two when looking away from you. You can see this effect here and it pays to weather your track in the direction the trains are moving for best effect.

Modelling it.

If I am using wooden sleepers then I tend to lay the track first then give it a base coat of a mucky brown colour. I use JLTRT track colour but I’m not sure if you can still get it. Halfords do a decent matt brown in their range of camouflage spray paints which is good as well. You don’t need to be too precious as it is just the base colour. I then paint the rail sides with either Humbrol matt leather (look for tins with the union flagon the side, the others are weird and too green) or Revell 84 before ballasting. You can get a little tool for paining rails that consists of a little roller fed from a reservoir. To be honest I tried it ans didn’t get on with it. A nice flat brush seems much easier. Do all this before the ballasting. Flat bottom track on New Street.  It was pretty new in 1987 and the rails had a distinctly different colour to the bullhead stuff. As its bi directional i sprayed the track from both directions. Firstly with a light coat of Revell 84 and then a mix of gun-metal and black. Note the grease around the fishplates done with the same colour and a simple card mask to prevent overspray. Sidings outside New Street signal box, It pays to have all the scenery immediately next to the track in place before the weathering. Overspray onto these elements is something that would happen in real life.   Note much more gunmetal/black colour where the loco’s stand. Make sure that you repaint the checkrails once you’ve cleaned the rail tops A black sharpie is good for keeping them dirty or you can chemically blacken them as well. Close up of the end of a double slip. Older sidings on Brettell road.  I used my finger to ‘smudge in some powder paint to the ballast to give the less cared for look. Some static grass gives an impression that the yard is losing the battle with nature. While in some cases weeds can creep into sleepers or even force their way through them it pays not to have your greenery on top of them.

Its all pretty simple stuff really but as I said at the start, observation is the key.

More vehicles, greenery and a first for me.

more-commercialsThe above 2 vehicles represent a return for me in a small way in that both come from manufacturers I have used before and in both cases I was a little bit disappointed previously . On the left an Austin A40 from Road transport images who I used before for a dodge cab on New Street. In the case of the dodge cab I felt it was a bit too rounded and didn’t really capture the look of the real thing all that well but I must say I’m much happier with this little van which was an impulse buy at this years Scaleforum. This is one of their all in one kits which is unusual for them as they usually sell all their bits separately so you can build the vehicle you want. Road Transport Images

The Lorry is a Ford Thames from John Day models. In this case my previous experience was with a diesel-powered Transit bus and again I wasn’t all that impressed. This model couldn’t be further from the transit though as its much better cast with very little work to do. I swapped the supports in the bed for wire as they were a tad scruffy and the bed and cab both needed a little bit of evergreen 40thou section to make them fit a little better but I like it! John Day Models

unloved-trackI decided that the track in my little yard looked too neat so I have attacked it with some powder paint (rubbed in with a finger then sealed with Klear) and some weeds. I’m much happier with how it looks now.
loading-gaugeAlthough I don’t have a goods shed I do need a loading gauge. I’m reliably informed that these were used to ensure that wagons leaving the yard were within gauge and not as some sort of protection for goods sheds. The above example is a typical midlands one and started out from the Smiths kit, I filed off the moulded lifting gear and replaced it with some spare handwheels (from Brassmasters) and bits of wire and brass.
weighbridgeI mentioned in the title a first for me and this is it. Not that i’ve never built a weighbridge before (Although I haven’t) but i’ve never actually built a kit building before. When I was a kid my dad built some for me, usually Airfix kits and Linka, but all my buildings have been scratchbuilt up to now. So in the interests of breaking new ground this is a Wills kit. I turned the door over as hinges on the outside indicated it opened outwards which seemed a bit odd to me. I also filed off the panels on the end and rescribed the bricks and fancied a brick-built chimney but it is still a kit building. Oh and the guttering is bits of brass from Eileens!

Finally, you may have spotted earlier that Ive bedded in (most of) the abandoned warehouse, a few pictures follow:abandoned-line warehouse-bedded-in

Track laying done (well the tricky bits)

I must admit I’m a bit out of practise with this track building stuff and this took a bit longer than I thought. Above is an overview of the trackwork so far with just some plain track still to do.
First up is a double slip that isn’t! It’s actually just a normal turnout from an operational point of view with one end blocked and clamped so it doesn’t move.
At the other end I’ve removed two of the point blades to depict that the line it leads too is out of use.
On the other board is a 3 way point. I’ve always found these more tricky than double slips although they are less work.
It’s the way the 3 vees have to interact that makes them tricky. I also messed up the first set of blades and got one in the wrong place so I had to do it again. It was only once I’d done it that I remembered I might have done exactly the same thing last time I did a 3 way!

30th June 2012

I have been weathering track (I have had an urge to do it for a while).  The results of my efforts can seen below and also on the track page (under Layouts).

Also new this time are images for classes 08, 25, 31, 47, 86, 87 and 118

9th December 2010

Been working on the walls on board 2 as well as finishing off all of the platform tops. Theres more in the scenary section.

Also been working on the little bit of wasteland near the dock at the Wolverhampton end of the station. Some more experimentation with photography in very low light can be found in the class 50 and class 310 pages in the stock section.

Finally, may I take the opportunity to wish all visitors to my little corner of the internet a Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2011!

21st October 2009

Time for another update. There are a few new sections to the website as well as a conclusion to an ongoing project!

First up I have had a track building urge again and good progress has been made on the London/Derby end station thoat. To see more go to the track page.

A new section on how I am building my roads can be found in the scenary section.

If you have roads you need vehicles to go on them! See more in the Vehicles section.

Finally my staff building is finished!

12th May 2008

Been busy with more trackwork. I have also loaded a more up to date (and clearer to see) track plan for the station area to the layout section.

20th July 2007

All of the track that crosses between boards 1 and 2 is now down. This means that board 1 can go into storage for a while and track laying can continue onto board 2.

As with all things often tweaks need to be made when you see things full size and the roads over this part of the station are not quite right. Altering these does not affect the work done so far.

29th June 2007

With all of the switch and crossing work on the first board finished I popped the signal box in situe to get a sense of height to the work so far. After all of the 1 in 9 crossing work the B6 in the loco sidings seems ever so tight!

15th June 2007

A shade over a month since I started tracklaying and I have to be a bit surprised as to progress so far. More pictures can be seen in the layout section, under track.

23 April 2007

I have finally decided it’s about time I put a website together to chart the progress on my model railway – p4newstreet.

Basically a model of Birmingham New Street station and surrounding areas, set in the late 1980’s (1986-1987 to be exact) and built using P4 track Standards. See the layout section for more details.

I Plan to update the website as and when there is some progress to report so hopefully you will pop back now and then to see how things progress.