Sunday, 28 March 2021

Takeaway Subway Plot

Something I have long considered is how to create a public right of way from the archway at the back of Burghmire to the front of the layout. The platform and overall roof on the tramway rather obstruct a ground level route or even an elevated one. A subway was the only choice! Progress has also been made on the back wall for the overall roof for the tramway platform.

For the subway, I cut a hole in the baseboard top and the front of the baseboard and inserted a plywood box under the baseboard to form the basic subway structure. A few plasticard steps and 2 retaining walls were then inserted.

and in situ on the baseboard.... (removable for the time being)

For the overall roof, my earlier plan to use thick stone pillars didn't work out in the end. There just isn't enough space, particularly behind the platform. Instead, I am constructing a plain wall with cutouts so that I can see trains in the platform from the back of the layout. Here is an impression of how it looks at the moment, with a bit more work to do. You may also see the platform and loading dock edging taking shape - constructed mainly from cut-down Peco platform edging which I happened to have available.

All the structures will be painted together in due course, to ensure some uniformity in colouration. They are currently in a protective box, as I need to do some soldering on the baseboard. A tiny track extension to allow wagons to unload better at the goods shed. Also, a small amount of rewiring where I had to remove wires to make way for the subway. I am also making the 'wooden' support structure for the front of the overall roof - mainly out of brass tube, for strength. I shall then do a thorough test of all the trackwork before I start locating scenic items permanently.

Incidentally, I found this video on Youtube that could inspire everyone. The modeller makes it all look so quick and easy!

Friday, 26 February 2021

Developing The Plot

 Development of the right hand corner of my Burghmire diorama continues in a very tentative, touchy-feely kind of way. Covid travel restrictions make it impossible to visit Burghmire - except of course in my imagination. Unfortunately, I am having problems with the PC that my image processing software runs on, so the images below are straight from the camera. Hopefully they do give a reasonable representation of what has been achieved so far.

I am trying to model the old part of town, enclosed by what is left of the old town wall. A slum clearance scheme allowed the tramway to encroach on this space, but some of the old buildings remain. All of the buildings so far are made from kits, but are slowly being modified - often quite drastically -  to create the kind of atmosphere I yearn for.

 In the first image, you see the two latest additions. On the left, the dark brown building is made from parts of a Knightwing church kit, which has some nicely moulded medieval windows. I have only just started putting this together, so there is much yet to be done. There will, for example be a stone base and a few stone buttresses to make the exterior more interesting. The half-timbered building on the right is a kit I bought on eBay, ready-made. I think it is perfect for the location. Both buildings have been raised up above baseboard level, as I want the ground surfaces to slope down towards the camera and to the right. The narrow alley to the right of the half-timbered building already has stone steps installed leading up to higher ground. Nothing is fixed in place yet, so I can still make minor adjustments to angles and heights. I shall probably lower both buildings very slightly, as they I think they sit a bit high at the moment. I shall make an impression of an underpass to link the arch in the background with the imaginary lower town behind the camera. This would maintain the right of way otherwise destroyed when the tramway was built.

The second image shows the loco shed and (to its left) the red brick goods shed. The goods shed bears very little resemblence to the kit it was made from. The loco shed will require lots of interior detail. The town wall will extend towards the camera in largely fallen-down form. I shall have to scratchbuild most of this. I shall probably use embossed stone outer faces, with broken-off expanded polystyrene to represent the inner rubble filling.

The third photo shows the face of the short, low station platform in the foreground. The buildings behind are all set at slightly different angles, so that the gaps between them taper from the front to the back. This exaggerates the distance to the back of the layout.

For the next photo, I have added the overall roof of the station, temporarily supported to give an impression of its final height. It gives a better view of the heavy modifications made to the archway building in the background.

And finally, a satellite image showing the scene. The dome on the tower in the background is because the structure is now a domestic dwelling, having long forsaken any defensive capability. As with all the other buildings, the kit has been modified - this time with windows, an extra door and a different staircase to that provided in the kit.

 Although progress is very slow, I am really enjoying making these buildings. My brain seems to work far better adapting existing kits than starting everything from scratch. I am beginning to regret putting so much track down, as otherwise I would have room for far more buildings 😉

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Real Estate

 Things didn't go to plan (do they ever?), but spare time indoors due to bad weather and a sudden rush of enthusiasm are slowly bringing rewards.

Last time, I said I would concentrate on stock for Burghmire for a while, but that never really happened. Mum passed away at the end of October, just before her 94th birthday. This and several other issues brought modelling almost to a halt. Things are moving again now though, following a couple of key decisions about the layout.

The original deadline for the 2mm Scale Association's Diamond Jubilee Layout Competition (DJLC) was pretty tight, especially if the baseboards, stock and the scenery were to be started from scratch. This deadline has already been extended by 12 months because of Covid and may yet be extended even further. 

The original deadline made me decide to use my small array of BR stock, with a few minor additions, for the DJLC event itself. Only afterwards would I start building custom stock, which would likely occupy a lot of time. Logically, I would therefore have to make Burghmire look typically 'British' so that the BR stock would not look out of place. I recently added a couple of BR railcars to fill a noticeable gap - a Dapol Class 121 'Bubblecar' and a Farish GWR Railcar. Both are very quick and easy conversions.

Trying to find the atmosphere of a typical, but mildly eccentric British town occupied much time. As I have explained before, the scenery around Wantage (the station Burghmire is based upon) would not have worked very well. Whilst the station area itself is cramped and crowded, the scenery immediately around it, as would be accommodated on my small baseboard, would totally lack atmosphere.

I spent months procrastinating; browsing books and the Internet, trying to find the kind of scenes and buildings I craved, but with only mixed success. I really needed backstreet views and the backs of buildings, when old photos almost always show the fronts of buildings and the better parts of town. One rare but good example I did find of the kind of thing I was looking for was the Archcliffe Brewery in Dover, long demolished.

Cliff's Archcliffe Brewery circa 1912.

Even if I found the combination of buildings I fancied, I would only achieve results by spending a very long period of intensive scratchbuilding. This was compounded by the thought that I might someday extend Burghmire onto another baseboard. I desperately needed a way of (a) eliminating the timeless, never-ending quest for ideas and (b) drastically reducing the amount of time it would take to make the buildings, once I had decided what to build. At my modelling speed, every little bit helps!

The best answer seems to be to use kits, which cuts down the options quite severely, especially if I choose buildings that go well together. It also (hopefully) speeds up the production process. I enjoy working in plastic, which cuts down the possibilities even further - especially if I eliminate the not so good ones. Many Kestrel kits, for example, just don't look right to me at all. Plastic kits allow mixing and matching and also major surgery to suit awkward sites etc. - or at lease that's the theory!

 So here's a couple of views of where I've got so far...


I went for the half-timbered approach, even though it looks a little Continental. Everything is only roughly placed in position so far and all will require a lot of customisation to fit properly into the scene. At least it's a way forward - and with a bit of work, should produce a charming scene, full of atmosphere (I hope!)

As for stock, thoughts are moving more and more towards building a unique collection of unusual vehicles. Having taken the plunge to make Burghmire's townscape so different, I may as well just get on with building some quirky and interesting stock. Here are a couple of examples...

I am experimenting with a couple of bodies adapted from Model Power Brill trams, modified to represent imaginary tramway coaches for the Burghmire Tramway. This one is plonked onto a temporary chassis for the photo. I shall be assembling some 2mm Association 4-wheeled chassis kits for them soon.

Then there are these Oxford CMP trucks, just crying out to be put on rails don't you think?...

There really was a prototype for these, on the Indian railways - though to 5ft 6in gauge, rather than 4ft 8.5 inches. I am not sure if I have the courage to try and motorise them. I guess I could just fit 2FS wheels and use a motorised wagon to push them. Either way, they are just right for my vision of what Burghmire should be all about ;)

Lots more ideas in the pipeline. Just be patient - very patient!