Morpeth Station

It’s been a while since I last posted but I’ve been making steady progress on the next big project on the layout. There’s a good reason why I’ve made no postings: the stages I’ve been working through on this next model are necessary but not particularly photogenic.

Before I move onto what I’ve been working on, I want to go back and place this new work in context. As those of you who have been following this blog from the start, or who have gone back and read my early posts will be aware, this is not my first go at building a layout called “Morpeth”. That’s why I sometimes refer to this iteration as Morpeth MkII. Before tearing that earlier layout to pieces and salvaging what I could, it had reached a stage where most of the buildings were in place, including the station building.

The Morpeth line had a long and interesting history and for such a short line (just over 5km in total) it had a surprising number of stations along its length. There were no fewer that three different stations with the name Morpeth and one of these still stands on the banks of the Hunter River, generally referred to as the 3rd station. However it is not this station building that I modelled on my previous layout (Morpeth MkI) or intend modelling on my current layout. I’ve decided, after long and careful consideration, that I’m going to build another model of the same structure I have previously built, generally referred to as the 2nd Morpeth station. The station model from the previous layout didn’t survive its move after Morpeth MkI’s demise and, even if it had, I wouldn’t have been able to recycle it into the new layout for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there is less space on this layout than the previous version. My modelling has also moved a fair way since this earlier model was constructed and I want this new structure to reflect my “enanced” techniques and skills.

Another reason I decided to rebuild the station for this layout was that the platform on the previous model was formed from two pieces of 16mm mdf, making the platform 32mm thick and incredibly heavy. This new layout, unlike the previous “permanent” home layout, is designed to be portable and a 32mm thick slab of solid mdf has no place on a layout such as the one I’m currently building.

The previous Morpeth station building, as opposed to the platform, was made primarily from 1.5mm white styrene covered in Slaters embossed plastic sheet to represent the brickwork. While this structure was nice and light, and I really enjoy working with styrene, for this new building I wanted to try a different method of representing bricks that I read about years ago. This “new” method of representing brick on a building is described in detail in Gordon Gravett’s book 7mm Modelling Part 2 – Building a Layout starting on page 70. I won’t go into a full description of the method but it essentially involves applying a layer of air drying DAS modelling clay to a substrate surface using a thin layer of white glue to aid adhesion. I used the white clay following Gordon’s advice in the book but I’m now convinced that the terracotta colour would have worked just as well. The building substrate is constructed and a thin layer of white glue applied to a small section at a time. You gradually apply a layer of clay over this that is approximately 2mm thick. After about 12 hours drying time you can scribe the surface with any pattern of brick or stonework you like. It works a treat, so well in fact that I feel the stock of plastic brick sheet I have on hand will be consigned to the left overs drawer.

I tend to be a bit of a belt and braces sort of bloke so I decided I wanted the building to be made from something that would withstand warping after being smeared in glue and clay. I visited the local Bunnings and found they sold sheets of good quality, furniture grade 6.4mm thick 3 ply in small sheets that didn’t require me to haul the trailer to the shop. This material was lighter than mdf, thick enough to withstand warping and had been stored in such a way that it was flat upon purchase. If the ply you’re buying is already warped it won’t straighten out when you get it home and cut it up.

The platform and building for my new Morpeth station will be built on a base of 9mm ply I already had on hand. This material matches the thickness of the sub roadbed. I made some measurements and did some calculations and found I had to do a bit of selective compression to get the model to fit the available space. There wasn’t enough depth available to fit a full width structure into the space so the compression required me to juggle the dimensions around. I restrict my building “flats” to no less than about 60% of the original structures depth. I find people don’t tend to notice a building that’s just over 50% of its original depth, but once you go past this point it starts to become pretty obvious that you’ve chopped its back off. You have to allow the roof to reach its peak and then drop away at the back slightly before chopping.

I made the platform from a latticework of strips of ply and glued these to the base. The exterior layer of ply will be completely “faced” with some form of surface covering. The brick surfaces at the front of the structure will all be of scribed DAS while sections that are less visible will be Slaters brick plastic. No use wasting effort where it won’t be seen. I’ve been working on the front brick facing of the platform over the last two weeks: a long, thin strip of ply about 30mm wide by 1.25m long. The long brick course lines were scribed first and I’ve spent a lot of time scribing in each individual brick. I began to go a bit stir crazy about last Monday evening but I finally managed to finish it and I’ve been colouring the bricks over the last few days.

The base colour is applied using a range of Tamiya acrylics and these brick colours are allowed to dry. A thinned wash of suitably coloured mortar colour is then applied in using water colour paint. After the whole surface is dry you then go back and remove the mortar colour from the faces of the bricks with a damp cotton bud (que tip). As the Acrylics aren’t reactivated by water this allows you to lightly scrub them to get the water-colour off but I found that some of the colour was still removed so you need to be careful.

The brick effect using this method produces a first class result and will result in a wonderful structure with lots of character. All I need to do now is wait till they let me out of the loony bin after scribing all those bricks so I can start work on the platform surface 🙂

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