Back On Track

Probably the most overused first sentence on blogs of all types is: “It’s been a while since my last post…” and then the author goes on to explain why it’s been a while since their last post. Well it has been a while since my last post but I’m going to spare you the self serving explanation of why, trying to pretend my life it so busy and full of rich experiences that I haven’t had time. The truth is that I’ve been a bit lazy, I’ve been doing other things and I’ve been enjoying summer to do a great deal of modelling and write blog posts about it. However I’ve been getting back into the modelling recently and I’ve finally reached a stage where I have something worthwhile to post.

As mentioned in my last post I’ve been getting together with a couple of friends on Wednesdays over the past few weeks to build some turnouts and we’re probably about half way through the building process of my two friend’s turnouts. In spite of my last post they didn’t get to eat any ginger nuts because I’d eaten them all before they arrived, however I made some lovely walnut and date slice with a lime icing that was a real knock out and which helped overcome their bitter disappointment at the lack of ginger nuts.

This photo shows Peter and Phil pretending to be doing some work on a turnout in between drinking coffee and scarfing down freshly baked walnut and date slice 🙂

Just after I’d completed the full circle of track round the layout room I decided the loop in QW’s yard wasn’t long enough. I only have a fairly paltry collection of rolling stock and the loop at QW couldn’t accommodate the moderately long train I’d made up to test my newly laid track. So I needed a fix and came up with a plan requiring some new turnouts. One R and one L, code 125, #6 turnouts to be precise. The last thing I wanted to be doing was building more turnouts but I’d agreed to build some for a friend who wanted to make a start on laying track on his layout so it was a good time to be making a couple of extras for myself. I happily made three new turnouts and commenced work on three more, one of which was to be a code 100 #6 when I decided it would probably be a good idea to go up and see how the ones I was building for myself would fit in their new home.

This photo shows the arrangement at one end of the yard at QW. The original cross over at the end of the loop is about 1 m to the left of this photo. I decided to leave this in place because removing it would have been far too disruptive and probably would have led to damage to the dairy you can see in the photo. The plan to lengthen the yard required the turnout in the photo to be pulled up, turned 180 degrees and have a second turnout butted up to its diverging end to allow QW yard to have a main, a loop and a goods loop.

It was at this stage that I became aware (because I’d bothered to walk out to the train room to take a look) that both of the turnouts I’d been constructing were essentially useless for their intended purpose. One was no good because it was being built on a base that would have made it impossible for it to be mated up with the pre-existing track of QW’s mainline. I built the track on QW many years ago on 3mm MDF bases and I was now make track on 5mm ply bases. Even the fairly forgiving, large-ish wheels on O-scale trains wouldn’t handle a 2mm height difference in the rails. The second turnout was useless because I’d managed to overlook the fact that the track in QW’s yard was actually code 100, not code 125. Luckily I’d been also been making a code 100 #6 turnout for the coal branch (which is also laid using code 100) and, even more luckily, it was of the correct orientation. So this turnout could be pressed into service on the loop lengthening project. However there was nothing for it but to start from scratch on a new code 125 turnout, built on a thinner base that matched the track on QW. Perhaps the most fortuitous factor was that, as I was also making the turnouts for my friend, I could foist my excess #6 turnout stock onto him and pretend I was doing him a favour by making him more turnouts and at a rate far faster than I’d originally said I could 🙂

This photo shows the original code 125 turnout turned 180 degrees and the new, partially completed turnout built on a thinner ply base in approximately their new positions. There’s still a bit of adjusting to do but I’m hoping these turnouts will be installed and trains will be running over them in the next week.

So the lesson from all this is that you can entice friends to your home with the promise of ginger nuts only to spring walnut and date slice on them and you can offer to build them turnouts and then foist your dumb mistakes on them and they’re grateful to you. Friends, what would we do without them? 🙂


That’s Not A Ginger Nut!

My friend Peter Krause asked if I’d mind bringing my fancy laser level to his place so we could level up the benchwork units for his new layout Saddlersfield in the lovely new shed he’s recently had built. I had no hesitation in jumping in the car and heading north to spend a pleasant morning helping get the benchwork leveled. It took us very little time using the laser and I have a feeling that we both surprised ourselves at how quickly the job went compared to what time it would have taken using traditional bubble levels.

So after not much more than an hour we were sitting under the awing at the back of his house drinking tea when he offered me a Ginger Nut biscuit. Now I haven’t eaten a Ginger Nut in years so I agreed with alacrity but what he offered was suspiciously thin and decidedly un-nut like. A Ginger Nut is an Arnott’s biscuit and in my memory they are fat, sweet and hard. I mean really HARD! They aren’t a Ginger Nut unless you’re in danger of chipping a tooth on them. I offered the opinion that what Peter was offering me to accompany my cuppa was a dreaded generic or something sold by that German retail mob masquerading as an Aussie classic but no, he assured me that these were, in fact Arnott’s Ginger Nuts! E-Gads!!?? What has the world come to when a Ginger Nut snaps rather than cracks? Of course Arnott’s was sold to the Americans quite a few years ago so I blame them. Any nation that would inflict Justin Beiber on the world and soften up a Ginger Nut has a lot to answer for! Have you seen an Iced Vovo recently? Pathetic 🙂 No wonder the current generation is taking the world to hell in a hand-basket via their mobile apps, they don’t have proper Ginger nuts to help toughen them up! 🙂

Anyway I chose to address this egregious culinary crime by hauling out my well thumbed Woman’s Weekly cookbook and cooked a batch of Ginger Nuts. And by Ginger Nuts I mean a biscuit, not a cookie, one that needs a mouth guard to eat!

While they didn’t come out quite as hard as I’d have liked these are my version of a real Aussie Ginger Nuts! Let’s face it, anything that has cinnamon and sugar in it is bound to taste ok. Oh and a bit of ginger too 🙂

Peter and another friend of mine are getting together on the 16th of January 2019 to to commence work on making some O-scale turnouts and possibly eat Ginger Nuts. If you happen to be in the area of the Qld Gold Coast or far northern NSW please make contact on and you might get to eat one too.

This is the recipe I used to make my Ginger Nuts. Yum! 🙂

We’ll get back to the trains next time 🙂

The Next Steps

About six weeks ago I arrived home from the New England Convention where Morpeth appeared as a layout display. I wasn’t exhausted by the experience but I’d done little else in my free time in the lead up to the convention but work on the layout so I’d been putting off a list of jobs that I needed to get onto once I got home, and frankly, I just wanted some time off modelling. Two things happened today that sort of drew a natural line under this hiatus.

The first of these was that I’d been building and installing some vegetable beds in the garden and I managed to fill them with soil today and plant some seedlings. The walls of my new vegie boxes are built from genuine railway sleepers (what else?) and as the beds now have plants in them I should have a little more time to spend at the modelling bench. Secondly, after a six month wait, my electrician rang yesterday and asked if he could come out and install the emergency cut off switch on my “new” (67 year old) Myford lathe. I set the lathe up on its stand months ago and had a light installed over it in preparation for this day, but I’m yet to actually cut any metal on it. I could have done a few small metalwork jobs on the lathe if I’d chosen but I’d made a personal resolution that I wouldn’t use the machine until it was safe to do so. Knowing me, setting the tail-stock in place and making parts would have meant the switch never got installed, so while it took a heck of a lot longer than I’d anticipated, the lathe is now ready for to be fully assembled and used.

The stand that the lathe sits on has a steel plate welded to the front in anticipation of the installation of a safety switch, one that obviously never got installed, because it had no holes in it where the switch could have been mounted. The only issue around using this plate to mount the switch on would have been that doing so would have meant the switch projected out from the front of the lathe about 100mm, right a crotch height. I attached a timber step-back plate to the steel mount to allow the switch to sit nicely tucked in at an appropriate location: easily accessible but with little opportunity for it to enable me commence a new career as a castrati.

while not doing any work on the layout I have actually been working on a modelling project for a friend; the refurbishment of a hand built, South Australian S class 4-4-0 steam loco built to 1:48 several decades ago.This locomotive was sitting on a section of my friends layout that consisted of plywood when I visited a few months ago and somehow or another I ended up bringing it home with me to see if I couldn’t get in running nicely. I flatter myself that there isn’t a locomotive in existence I can’t get running well but I prefer an achievable challenge over a difficult one and this little 4-4-0 has proven to be a pleasure to work on. I’ve spent a lot of the past six weeks waiting for parts to arrive from various parts of the globe and at the time of writing I still hold out hope that a package with some small BA bolts and a plug tap will arrive before Christmas day. We’ll have to see about that. Other than this the loco is essentially ready to reassemble and give a test run. I’m considering making a new bogie for the front of the loco but I will make a decision about whether this is necessary tomorrow when I do some more work on it now that I don’t have to go outside and shovel barrow loads of stone or garden soil 🙂

When the owner of the S class spoke to me about it he said it didn’t run very well. I feel one of the reasons for this poor running was that it used the “American” pickup system of half the wheels on the tender collecting current from one rail and the loco drivers on one side collecting from the other rail. In my book this simply means that you’re essentially only using half the available pick up points for current collection. After replacing all the wheels on the loco for modern, insulated versions (the wheels on the tender were chunky solid brass models) I installed pickups on all available wheels. This photo shows the tender with my standard current collection system; pickup wipers on the backs of all wheels, insulation provided by copper clad sleeper material (in this case left over sleeper material from some Marcway points I made 15 years ago) and more copper clad used to transfer the current to the front of the tender.

I’ve been gradually working on the S class over the past couple of weeks and enjoying myself immensely working on a model that is not intended to go to sea 🙂 I installed new wheels on both tender and loco, improved the current collection by installing pickups on all wheels and worked on installing DCC sound into the loco rather than the tender where the decoder was when I was handed it.

Normally I would use a Jaycar high bass speaker for an O-scale loco such as this however there simply isn’t room to fit one unless I place it in the tender. In a choice between putting a smaller speaker into the loco body or a larger one into the tender the smaller speaker won out. I’m reinstalling the speaker that came with the loco into the boiler. Luckily the smoke box door popped off easily so I’m planning to glue the speaker (which already has its own enclosure) to the back of this. That way it will remain accessible in case the owner chooses to upgrade to a larger speaker in the tender later. I’ve made up a small Vero board circuit to mount the L series ESU decoder to which is held in place with some double sided tape. The masking tape is simply to hold the wires from the decoder I haven’t utilized out of the way.

With luck the loco should be running by the new year. I’ll write a post and possibly make a short video of this when it happens.

The Ticking Clock

About nine months ago I agreed to take Morpeth to the New England Convention in November. That’s nine months away, then six months away and now it’s less than two weeks away. A friend is booked to help me load the layout into the trailer in under two weeks and when that happens the layout has to be ready to roll because work must cease. Shiver me timbers!

As the clock has ticked and the weekend of the 17th and 18th of November draws closer I tried to make sure that all the really big jobs that needed to happen prior to departure were well and truly done. I mentioned on the blog a few weeks ago that I’d got the layout downstairs into the workshop and it was set up. Well in the intervening weeks I’ve steadily worked my way through a to do list of smallish jobs. I didn’t want to hook the DCC system up to the layout until most of the dirty wood cutting and shaping jobs were done. Well the DCC system was connected last weekend and I got the layout’s curtains hung and I have to admit that she does look good.

This shot shows the layout set up and ready for action. The DCC system is hooked up, the lighting rig installed, the new control panel is set up and trains are running.

I will admit to working at a fairly relaxed pace over the past few weeks: I had a list of jobs to finish but long experience told me I had more than enough time to get these completed and still put a bit of time into the ship which is most definitely going to accompany the layout no matter whether it’s finished or not. Then an Auscision 48 class turned up in the mail last week and I had to make a decision: if I could get a decoder installed in good time and have the loco running I might be able to take it with me to Armidale. If I couldn’t then I wouldn’t touch it and it would remain in it’s box. I had very limited time left to get done what I needed to do and the worst outcome would be to devote several hours to installing and programming a DCC decoder only to find I couldn’t get the bugs ironed out in time. I bit the bullet and decided to have a shot at installing a decoder which I had on hand and while the sound file is not exactly the correct motor noise it’s pretty close. A week after starting this job I was ready to take the loco out to Morpeth and give it a run. It seemed to be running ok inside on my test track but the bloody thing wouldn’t cooperate on Morpeth and kept stopping and shorting the DCC system on every turnout and even occasionally on straight, plain track. My instincts told me that there was something shorting across the wheels and sure enough it turned out that the brake blocks were touching the wheels faces at spots on the layout where that variations in the rails pushed the axles slightly one way or the other. A bit of judicious leverage with a small screw driver appears to have solved the problem.

4821 sitting at Morpeth station platform. This Auscision model is a beautiful piece of work. The plug in DCC board has simplified the installation of a DCC decoder although getting two speakers into the body was still a challenge. It runs beautifully and looks the part on the layout. Auscision are to be congratulated.

Today I had another friend visit to help me lift sections of the layout in and out of the trailer in preparation for the final loading next week. I’ve come up with a way to transport all 5 sections of the layout in the four slots available in the trailer however getting them all in the trailer and secured had my friend Peter and I scratching our heads today. I think I’ve come up with an answer to the dilemma but we’ll find out over the next couple of days as I finalize preparations and start to tear the layout down.

This is a slightly different view of Morpeth from the stairs up to the first floor. I’m very happy with the way the layout looks in this mode but exhibition preparation is a lot of work!

Oh and if you’re wondering, I have made some progress on the ship but nowhere near enough for me to be happy with it. I’ll keep plugging away and post a photo of the ship in place when the layout appears at the convention in a couple of weeks.

I should thank Peter, Phil, Chris and John for their help and advice in getting the layout and the 48 ready for the convention. Any glitches, hiccups and problems have all been my doing and without their valuable assistance the layout would never have come down from its second storey home and it certainly wouldn’t have had a brand new brass 48 running on it over the upcoming weekend.


Binnacles, Bulwarks and Cabins

Work proceeds apace on the Louise, the name I’ve christened the ship model on Morpeth. Well “apace” might be a slight misnomer, progress actually proceeds at a stately pace as befits a refined lady of calm, coastal waters. Louise, my partner, doesn’t know she’s having a ship named after her yet but I’m currently looking for the worlds smallest bottle of champagne which she can crack over the bow before launch. Once the decals are applied to the prow it’ll be too late for her to object 🙂

As you may be able to tell from the title of this post I’m still struggling with the the terminology of ships and their various bits and pieces, but I’ve really started to enjoy building the model now that I have the decks installed. As such it’s a little like the stage in building a locomotive when you’ve got the wheels turning: from this point on it’s all just about building on the foundations. I’m sure to run aground on my own growing self confidence now that I’ve said that. The model was supplied with a wide variety of wooden sheet and strip, along with different types of metal wire and tube and about 10 or 11 bags of mostly white metal parts. While there are a lot of parts, and the vast majority are unfamiliar to me as to their purpose and names, I feel I’ve managed to choose the correct ones for the tasks I’ve been undertaking over the past week or so.

The Louise has two bridges; a large, open one at the top of the central structure and a smaller enclosed one which you can see in this photo. The cabin has windows fore and aft and a small side cab which I assume is the head (that’s the toilet to land lubbers). The ceiling of the enclosed cabin is the floor of the bridge above. the wires you can see sticking out of the top of the cab will allow it to be lit along with a red and green LEDs either side of the bridge as per the prototype.

The problem I’ve found with the kit, aside from the names of everything being unfamiliar and the labeling being basic at best, is that the descriptions in the instructions tend to be fairly light on detail. For instance, I’m well aware that a bridge on a ship would need to be supplied with a steering wheel/tiller arrangement of some type, a compass and a speed communication thingy (a telegraph), the type you see in all the best WWII movies about the navy. You know, when the captain says “all ahead full”! a seaman will push the handle on this round thing that has a full, slow, stop, reverse slow, reverse full written on the side. There’s a corresponding display in the boiler room so the bloke shoveling the coal into the boiler can…well I’m not sure what he does but I assume he shovels faster and pull some type of lever 🙂 However the instructions say (and I quote) “furnish the inside with binnacle, wheel and telegraph as shown on the flying bridge plan”. That’s the sum total of the textual assistance provided by the instructions! What the #$^&@!% a binnacle? 🙂

I’ve spent the best part of a week gradually assembling the small enclosed lower bridge cabin and assembling the associated bridge furniture for this and the upper bridge. You see, if you have two bridges then each has to have it’s own set of bits to make it look authentic; a wheel, a speed thingy and a compass (that’s binnacle for us in the know). I’ve also assembled and started to install some bulwarks which is what us old sea dogs call the hand rails and associated rail walls. Each of these has to be cut from a sheet of 1mm ply, glued up and then installed in its location. It was as I got the glazing installed in the cabin and glued the first bulwark in place (while I waited for the paint to dry on my binnacle and steering wheel) that I came to the realization that you’d never be able to see the bloody things in there as it would be so dark. So of course I decided to light the cab and as an added touch I also decided to install red and green sea lights to either side of the flying bridge (the upper structure that I can’t install until I have the cab furnished with it’s own instruments). What’s a binnacle I hear you ask? Well read on…

This shot shows the bits and pieces that will eventually populate the lower enclosed bridge (used when the captain doesn’t want to get wet from rain and cold weather I assume) and the open, upper bridge. The binnacle is the part with the green and red testicles hanging on either side of it. These are iron balls (I kid you not) that evidently “balance” the compass in some way. Google it if you don’t believe me 🙂 In addition to these strange contraptions the wheel goes at the back of the cabin! Why the heck sea going loonies want their steering wheel at the back of the cabin I do not know but I’m going to glue it at the back just like the real thing!

So I’ve been cutting, gluing and assembling parts for a week and before I’d really done much I decide to complicate things enormously by adding lights. I’m sure it will be worth it in the end. I’m currently working on a small circuit board to simplify the installation of the lights as they all need resistors to ensure they don’t burn out. I decide to use LEDs rather than incandescent bulbs mainly for their longevity. Once the cabin light is installed it will be permanently entombed in there with no access for maintenance.

So until next time, avast ye hearties! Whatever the hell that means 🙂



“If I say yes slap me will you…”

It’s been a while since my last post, not because nothing has been happening on Morpeth but because I’ve been a bit busy doing train events. It’s very gratifying putting something back into a hobby that has given me so much but I’ve got to admit that the urge to say yes to people asking whether I’d be willing to give a talk or display Morpeth has led to me placing quite a bit of pressure on myself. But a deadline is always a good thing isn’t it? 🙂

I’m delivering a talk at this Saturday’s Modelling the Railways of Queensland convention (in spite of the fact that I don’t model Qld railways) and then I’ll be flying to Sydney the following weekend to deliver another talk at the six monthly Aus7 Modellers Group O-scale Forum. However these are minor blips on my do-as-little-as-possible radar when compared to the upcoming New England Model Railway Convention in mid-November. I’ve agreed to take the layout to this event so that means I have to actually do some work and the weekend approaches at an accelerating rate. As I’ve documented here over the past month or so I’ve put some work into making a control panel for Morpeth and this is now completed and ready to be taken to Armidale and I also crawled about under the layout to make sure the portable section was disentangled from the main, permanent layout so that when the time came to move Morpeth and set it up in exhibition mode (in preparation for packing and loading it into its trailer) there’d be a minimum of work to do to get it downstairs to my workshop.

Well that time arrived yesterday.

This shot shows the layout upstairs minus Morpeth which a couple of friends and I managed to man-handle down the stairs so it could be set up for me to work on in exhibition mode. The removal and set up went well although this wasn’t because of long term planning as much as due to me rushing around over the past month or so working at fixing the self inflicted problems I’d caused by being sloppy in building the new parts of the layout. The “new” parts are essentially everything you can see in the photo.

The last time I took Morpeth anywhere to display was to Sydney in 2014. The trailer that has been sitting in my garage (in a number of different homes over the years) since about 2004 has seen very little use to haul a layout, the main reason it was purchased. The layout that was supposed to fill it and be taken to shows is Morpeth. I did take Queens Wharf to a couple of events in the trailer but the long term plan was to make a layout to fill the trailer and to show it and Morpeth is that layout. After 2014 I set myself two conditions that needed to be met before I’d show the layout again; one was that I would have a 20 class loco to run on it and the second was that the layout would have to be scenicly complete. Well both of those conditions have now been met so I had no real excuse when Warren Herbert asked me if I’d be prepared to bring the layout to Armidale. I ummed and ahhed for a while but said yes: after-all the layout was finished wasn’t it? Cursed be all exhibition and convention managers! Will someone slap me the next time they hear me utter the word “yes” to their hell spawned requests please? 🙂 As anyone who has an exhibition layout knows, the word “complete” is a flexible and too easily applied term. Morpeth is finished scenicly but I haven’t spent the past 4 years getting it ready for its next show. If anything, by chopping and changing it about over those years, it’s probably less ready to show than it was in 2014. The scenery is complete but it has no fiddle yard and the pier module doesn’t even have legs!

This shot shows Morpeth this afternoon set up downstairs in the shed. I’d spent the morning making a tour of local hardware stores trying to get all the items I need to make a new fiddle yard and legs for the pier and so no work has actually happened as yet. That all starts tomorrow. It may not be apparent in this photo but Morpeth sits a good 10″ higher in exhibition mode than she does when she resides upstairs in the layout room. The heavy wooden benchwork she sits on upstairs is not suitable for an innovative and nimble modern layout like Morpeth 🙂

There are a dozen little jobs that need to be completed before the layout can be packed and transported to Armidale in about 5 weeks time. The most important of these are legs for the pier module and a fiddle yard of some sort. Both of these are well in hand and will accompany the layout to Armidale. I have to reconfigure the DCC system, get my sewing skills honed to rearrange the curtains I made for the layout in 2014 and half a dozen other holes need plugging. However I know what some of you are thinking: what about the ship model that’s supposed to be tied up against the pier?

Well believe it or not that’s gradually emerging from the briny depths too…

It may not look like there’s been a great deal of progress on the ship but I can assure you that a major milestone has been passed with the installation of both decks. Work is now commencing on the cabins and some details have been installed. While the kit is still a SOB to work on it now feels like I might eventually finish it at some distant point because I’m just building up layers of detail from a very difficult base. I’m still making it up as I go along half the time and have come to realize that I’d do a lot of things differently if I ever built another ship but I’m satisfied that progress is being made, even if it probably won’t be finished by the time of the show in Armidale.




Scrub On The Point

Other modellers may have found a simple, effective and relatively cheap way of adding thick scrub to a piece of their layouts but I’m not one of them. When I commenced building Morpeth (the portable section of my permanent layout) about 10 years ago I had a vision of a pier based on the one that stands at Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast, the second station building that had the name Morpeth applied to it and a creek with really thick scrub and trees around it. I’ve lived in the bush (the thing we Australians call the “real” rural areas of our continent) for a good proportion of the past 33 years and I’ve got to admit that I’ve rarely (if ever) seen a creek populated with vegetation in the way I see it every day of my life as I simply drive around. I don’t know what people in cities see but I see creeks, well to be more accurate I don’t see creeks, because the trees and plants that surround them crowd in on them and block the view of the water. In fact in Australia you can tell where the water courses are by the presence of a wandering lines of gums. I wanted my creek to be scrubby in the way I know Australian creeks are scrubby. Today I finally finished the creek scene.

A couple of months ago I purchased a bag of trees from a Chinese firm on eBay. I could provide you with a link but just go onto eBay and search for model mulberry trees. You’ll find them for sale at around $8 for 5 and with free shipping. They look awful (they have glitter on the limbs for Heaven’s sake!) but they can be turned into something looking like a reasonable gum tree with a few snips, a bit of white and grey acrylic paint on the trunks and the application of some foliage mat. I use a Heiki product. I wanted to use these small (about 15cm high) trees to cheaply bulk up my creek’s foliage canopy.

I spent the first part of the week finishing off the small cabin I posted about last week. I made some brick steps for this model and started painting a white metal figure to stand on the small landing at the front of the building. I also started to review the scenery materials I had on hand and took to some cheap Ebay sourced plastic trees I’d purchased a few months ago with a set of flush cutters and paint. I wanted to use these to help me bulk up the scrub around the mouth of the creek on the real estate that surrounds the cabin.

In addition to deciding that the line at the entry to the pier would finally receive its final layer of scenery I also decided that the ship model needed to be secured to the “water” next to the pier. I wanted a way of bolting the wooden base of the ship to the scene to allow me to display the ship tied up to the pier but in a way that would also allow me to remove it as I worked on it. I settled on two small blocks of ply with t nuts driven into their upper side and with bolts coming up from below the water. The ply is glued in place because these small blocks will eventually be entombed inside the ships superstructure. The forward block of ply is under the deck of the fo’c’sle.

After fiddling around with securing the ship to the water I gathered my amazing collection of scenery storage boxes around me, mixed up a batch of PVA and water with the obligatory drop of washing liquid and made a start. I don’t have a technique for ground cover beyond painting the foam yellow, gluing on a thin layer of Woodland Scenics Earth Blend ground foam and then covering it all up with as much crap as I can throw at the area till I run out of time or scenery materials. That’s about as scientific as it gets. Lots and lots and lots of PVA used neat and then I just keep ripping up various mats and clumps and gluing till I’ve covered everything up.

The one feature I did want to capture on the area in front of the mill was some willows sitting near the water. They sat in front of the real Portus mill at Morpeth so I wanted the same look for my version. I purchased the two that now reside in that spot a couple of years ago and almost gave myself a heart attack when I looked at what I’d paid for them. I could have got 20 or 25 Mulberries for around the same price 🙂

After temporarily positioning the 5 or 6 trees I was going to use in the area I pulled them out again and then set to gluing the thick mat of foliage I wanted to cover this part of the layout in place.

The plan is that Pioneer and an Ixion tank loco will come to share exclusive duties on the pier run. I haven’t yet chopped, changed and dirtied up the Ixion model but I’ll get to that eventually. This shot provides a good comparison with the photos I’ve posted in previous posts on the blog.

I’ll let the model do the talking for me with this one.

I have a great deal of admiration for modellers like Geoff Nott who who did (or do) a great job of capturing a forest setting deep in the woods with huge trees. While I don’t model a forest I still want my models to look as if they’re in a landscape that, while it may not sit under towering red woods, is no less densely populated by trees and foliage in various locations, invariably close to water. I’ve never seen a redwood but I’ve seen plenty of creeks in the Australian bush.