Brick Work

The pace of this project seems to have taken off in the last few weeks. Anyone would think I’ve got the bit between my teeth šŸ™‚ I’ve only just finished the J Parker scene and I’ve immediately moved onto the Rundles Mill building that I posted a photo of a few weeks ago. This building takes me back to my regular habit of scratchbuilding structures and I’m also back to my standard method of dealing with masonry buildings by covering a sub structure of plywood with the air drying modelling clay DAS. After this dries I sand it smooth, scribe in the masonry shapes I want and the apply colour. Simple! šŸ™‚

Rundles Mill is a little unusual in that it appears to be a rendered structure. As is always the case, a rendered structure must have the cement render applied over something and in this instance I’m guessing that it was either cut stone (probably sandstone) or brick. There were brick kilns on the Morpeth line a few kilometers down the line at Raworth so the chances are that the building was built originally from brick.

This prototype shot of the Morpeth line shows the Maitland end of Rundles Mill. The surface of the rendered wall is mottled in a way that suggests to me that there bricks beneath the surface of the cement but I can't be certain.

This prototype shot of the Morpeth line shows the Maitland end of Rundles Mill. The surface of the rendered wall is mottled in a way that suggests to me that there are bricks beneath the surface of the cement, but I can’t be certain.

I’ve wanted to build Rundles Mill for quite a few years but I don’t have the space to build a full scale model of the structure and it was gone by the 1960s anyway so there is no chance of getting measurements and the chances of finding a plan are pretty slim too. It was a very large structure and photos of the river side of the building suggest that it was expanded at some point in the latter half of the 19th century because it is actually two structures butted up against each other.

My plan was to make my model of Rundles Mill fit the space I have available and use it as a screen to hide the entrance of trains onto the scenic portion of the layout. I use Gordon Gravett’s well-known technique of covering a basic structural box with DAS modelling clay and then scribing patterns into this once it’s dry. The only difference between the way Gordon does his buildings and mine are that he makes his boxes from foam core board whereas I like to make mine from 6mm or 7mm ply. I don’t like warping! I help the clay to stick to the box by applying a thin coat of PVA to the wood before applying the DAS. The work is done in small patches so the glue doesn’t go off before I’ve got the DAS in place.

On this project I wanted to represent the building as being fairly run down and I thought a smooth, rendered building would be a little plain and boring so I decided to jazz things up a bit by adding a few spots where the render has dropped off, revealing the sub-structure of bricks beneath. To achieve this I routered some shallow slots in the surface of the plywood walls prior to assembling the sub-structure. I planned to fill these with a thin layer of DAS and then have these show through the smooth upper surface of the render.

This shot shows my basic technique for making the brickwork that is supposed to lie beneath the cement render. I've commenced scribing in the bricks on the left hand side.

This shot shows my basic technique for making the brickwork that is supposed to lie beneath the cement render. I’ve commenced scribing in the bricks on the left hand side. The “bricks” are 2.5mm thick and 5mm long (about 5″X10″ in 1:43.5)

A couple of nights ago I applied some PVA to my pre-routered slots and let this clay dry overnight. When the clay had dried I gave the surface of the resulting patches a light sanding with some coarse sandpaper. Last night I scribed some horizontal lines into the surface of the dry clay and tonight I started scribing in the bricks. I’ll come back and cover the whole structure in a thin (about 3mm) layer of DAS when all the bricks are done, leaving some of the bricks uncovered as if the render has dropped away over time. The white clay is best for this project (DAS is also available in terracotta) because it takes colour beautifully being a paper based product.

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