Construction Boom

While I really enjoy structure modelling I find the process of trying to fit buildings in the narrow slices of real estate that are left after the track is laid to be a bit of a challenge. I was having a discussion with a recently retired friend of mine a week ago and he was telling me that he thinks he’ll probably never build a large layout, confining himself to a narrow shelf layout and dioramas. I can see the appeal of this approach as it leaves far less to be coped with when we reach our dotage and it also means he can concentrate on the parts of the hobby he really enjoys. However I must admit that I stood looking at the Morpeth module I’m working on at the moment and it came to mind that there are a number of modellers I know who would describe Morpeth as a diorama, reserving the word layout for some enormous, “permanent” structure that one presumably toils away at for years in splendid isolation in the manner of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ‘s ceiling. Is this an example of modelling snobbery? I have a vivid memory of one of my English aunts visiting my mother in the 1990s. We were talking about my mum’s home and I referred to her small cottage as a “house”. My aunt immediately corrected me by saying it was a “bungalow”. Evidently a “house” has a ground and an upper floor in the UK, a bungalow being a dwelling built on one level. Does my “layout” hover on the cusp of diorama status? Who gives a rat’s? 🙂

I’ve been making steady progress on the Stoney Creek structure kit I’ve been toiling away at for the past few weeks and it’s getting close to the time when I need to settle on what this structure is going to be. It’s called a foundry in the kit’s instructions but there’s nothing to stop me printing up my own sign and changing its role.

I've managed to install the corrugated iron on this side of the roof but the other side remains to be done.

I’ve managed to install the corrugated iron on this side of the roof but the other side remains to be done.

I was toying with the idea of making another model to place alongside this one and I have a building kit that is essentially a corrugated iron shed but to be honest I’m a bit over corrugated iron and felt that the kit was just a little big for the space I have available. So in doing some thinking and searching I’ve decided that this building site is going to remain a foundry but it will incorporate a junk/recycling yard and as such I ordered some junk piles from Rusty Rails Models. The castings I ordered arrived in the mail today and look like they will fit the bill perfectly. If anything it’s more than likely I’ll end up buying some more. So when I finish the building kit I’ll install it on the prepared base permanently, surround this with some retaining walls and fences and then junk up the yard with the castings I’ve purchased. To draw a line at one end of the yard I might scratch build a modest, open sided shed that could have a car parked in it or it might get a truck model with the company logo on its side. We’ll wait and see.

To take advantage of some time off I had last week I put some work into the structure base for the mill building that will sit on the other side of the creek on this module. This building is quite large and disguises the track entry point at this end of the layout (or diorama) 🙂


This photo shows the basic ply box struture that makes up the mill building. This box will get a covering of DAS modelling clay, a range of Grandt Line windows will be installed and the roof will be covered in red tiles. No more corro! :-)

This photo shows the basic ply box structure that makes up the mill building. This box will get a covering of DAS modelling clay, a range of Grandt Line windows will be installed and the roof will be covered in red tiles. No more corro! 🙂

It may not look like much at the moment but when I’m finished this structure will be very imposing. I’ll cover the basic box structure in a simulated “render” over brick achieved by the use of white DAS modelling clay. In several spots (you can see these in the photo) I’ve milled out shallow trenches where I’ll commence by smearing in a layer of DAS that will have bricks scribed into them. After these have dried and been scribed I’ll go over the whole structure with a plain layer of DAS and when dry this will be lightly sanded and coloured. I’ll leave parts of the bricks showing through the render as if the render has crumbled and fallen away. I feel I can justify this building looking a little old and run down; evidently it was closed and out of use by 1860! That’s about 80-90 years prior to the period I’m modelling. It was torn down sometime after the 1950s.

I’ve detailed this method of applying masonry to building bases on a number of occasions on this blog. Just go to the main page and search DAS and you’ll find the pages. I take no credit for developing this method of structure modelling. I first read about it in Gordon Gravett’s books on 7mm modelling which are well worth a read whatever scale you model in. The only major difference between his methods and mine is that he makes his boxes out of foam core material whereas I use 7mm plywood. Why the difference? I have saws, tools and woodworking paraphernalia coming out of my ears. I can construct from ply any shape I like and when it’s made I know it will be straight, square and strong. Under a layer of DAS you can’t tell what it’s made from and this box won’t warp and I can screw it into place so it’s not going nowhere. I can’t say any of that about foam core and I have worked with it before so I know what I’m talking about.

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