January 21st 2016
There may be a need to seek some 3D Digital modellers for a possible future job, so I have found a number of new contacts recently who have the expertise to create such things.
Alan Buttler at Modelu has been very patient with me, using his contacts to find the right people. If you do take an interest in railway applied 3D scanning and printing, be sure to have a look at his many recent projects at… http://www.modelu3d.co.uk/
Alan is also taking a new fully subscribed Spring weekend class at Missenden Abbey, as if he didn’t have enough to do!
Another possible contributor is Romanian BMW car enthusiast Matei Stancu who has a knack with computer drawing and very good English as well, so by all means have a look at his work at… http://3d-artisan.com
The last few blending tasks have now been taken care of on Semley’s backscene, with a day trip and some on site brush work. A few more 2D trees, and a shadow under the horse field northern boundary hedgerow as it leads away from the Warminster Road and extends eastwards behind the dairy buildings. Martin, Mike and the team will be adding the final details soon, Point rodding posts, Figures, 3D printed L.S.W.R. telegraph poles with separately mounted insulators on brass cradles and two horse shunting of coal wagons in the yard (one hitched behind the other)
Some detail pictures can go in here soon, with proper overall views planned for completion later this year.
Andrew David has asked me to restore the original backscenes for Geoff Williams brilliant Aylesbury High Street, which was carefully preserved and has now been resurrected by the Princes Risborough M.C. This will be appearing at Railex 2016, and I’ll be pleased to play a small part in conserving this peach of a layout.
As usual, David Lane has sourced a quality set of displays for the event, which can be previewed at… http://www.railex.org.uk/
The line was kept busy with local produce in both directions, with ducks, geese and fruit from the rich Vale soil, along with 50 churns of milk a day from the only intermediate station at Marston Gate. All this headed up the Premier line for the London markets, with coal for the gasworks and horse manure for the fields coming back out of the Capital.
January 9th 2016
Happy new year, here’s hoping it turns out well. There is a fair bit of activity planned for mine with some published stuff coming out and an increasing number of other projects that are on the go but are under wraps.
Thanks to Kathryn at LGL for placing my listing, please do pay a visit to this increasingly popular resource for everything railways.
There is a show calendar, and a large categorised list of approved services, historic film clips, contributed articles and galleries.
I have recently added a link to Ian Rathbone’s website from ‘Bucks Hill in 7mm’ The example thumbnail is one of my absolute Edwardian favourites, a Robinson 4-6-0 and Ian has done this one in lined Great Central Railway passenger green livery with a brass nameplate commemorating the opening of their new harbour on the Lincolnshire coast.
A replica 4-4-0 from the early G.C. period is underway though, and the excellent progress can be seen at …… http://gcr567loco.co.uk/ The frame plates have now been profile cut and many other components are present.
I can’t wait to see this in one piece, so here’s another quick link to more history and photographs …… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GCR_Class_2
Bob Alderman has done some more on his new East Anglian layout, and it now has a number of local buildings including this mill.
His most recent book is a proper study of Bridges and Viaducts, with modelled examples, and 500 photos and illustrations, and Bob also takes a class at Missenden Abbey.
Four separate photo feature subjects now await suitable slots in Model Rail Magazine, which tends to adopt themed content for each issue. The latest is a Bridge and tunnel mouth focus.
Chris Nevard has taken some very good period study photos with both early L.M.S. and early Edwardian G.W.R. sessions as well as the Lee Marsh terminus diorama in a late L.M.S period. They will be great, but must now remain hidden until later this year.
Every running session, I try and add some new content to the Bucks Hill website, and here are a few of the new pictures. There is another one soon and part of the fun is not knowing what will turn up.
December 20th 2015
Martin Finney has sent me some more of his work on the Semley landscape, and it has come out a treat, so here are a few captioned pictures showing the result.
Tim Shackleton sent a mockup picture of a new depot layout, which uses both 4 and 3.5mm to a foot scales in the same presentation. Even at this trial stage, it adds a successful distance layer, the unusual trick comes from including it in between the lines rather than just behind.
December 17th 2015
Quite a busy spell lately, sorting out reference and researching upcoming jobs
Credit for the first item here must go to ‘Generate a Panorama’, and Adrian of Western Thunder’s ‘Flying Squad’ for rightly pointing out it’s potential when applied to landscape modelling.
So what are we talking about? Basically this is an on-line resource with a capability of generating a topographical line drawing from any location in any direction from any height. Once you have a horizon line for your backscene, you need only work out the viewing elevation (eye level height above rails at layout scale) enter it into the parameters and just re-size the panorama before applying it to your horizon.
As an example of just how effective this is I’ve done a really quick example looking inland over Porthmadog Harbour station and the cob towards Yr Wyddfa and Moelwyn
Altogether quicker than working it all out with profiles in perspective and it allows more time for painting (which it won’t do)…yet. I’ll be out of a job when that happens!
It need not be restricted to a 2D image, as each layer can be separately done, building to layout scale nearby like the inset.
Give it a try and donate to it’s well being Generate a panorama
What I didn’t realise with the last entry was that the entire modellers weekend at Missenden Abbey was already booked up, so thanks to those who have registered for scenic work, I’ll do my best to keep up!
Andy Stadden has moulded specific posed crews for late Victorian G.W.R. locomotives, and these are now available from him, (see links page for contact). They suit most Dean era engines including Achilles single wheelers, Goods and Armstrong classes.
A set of Sepia framed prints from towns and west of England beauty spots have been prepared for Lee’s compartment carriage interiors, with route maps occupying the centre frames.
A mid week gathering took place at Bucks Hill during the week, with a host of excellent visiting locomotives and a L.N.W.R. Holyhead express rake which looked right at home behind a lined black Patriot.
There is more content on Kevin’s BH site (see links)
December 12th 2015
The Reading Trade show was buzzing with activity, and there is a short movie clip of one of Lee’s Stanier Princess Royal pacifics making light work of the heavy L.M.S. Royal train on the down line, and an up corridor express with lined crimson lake carriages.
December 4th 2015
Apart from one more day trip to do a few tweaks in the new year, the Semley landscape is now done with as many 3D additions as space allowed. Some of Martin and Mike’s excellent scenic blending will seamlessly graduate a new progressive 3D section into place alongside the Warminster Road bridge over the next few weeks. After that, there will be a professional set of photos and some feature copy to include other new additions such as figures and telegraph poles etc. I will try and steal as many pictures as I can when the time comes!
If you are coming to Missenden by the way, this has turned out to be an accurate landscape because the top quality layout research has also benefitted the locality. Collected maps and period photos have allowed land surface patterns, details of farms and tree placement, with good skyline profiles too. It makes the job right and saves time guessing as well.
Nick Grant at Ian Allan Publishing has now pretty much compiled the book draft into a well organised word document, ready for editing, so there are now nearly 100,000 words in 22 chapters to have their i’s dotted and t’s crossed before the next stages.
The Lee Marsh terminus has now travelled to the Reading Trade show where it has been raised up a little, and now also has an ambient soundtrack with suitable station background noises. Hopefully, for Bristol, the rails can be equipped with drop wires, additionally enabling the individual DCC loco sounds to be demonstrated at the show.
November 21st 2015
The Semley backscene is now ready to be blended onto the layout, including the curved rear panel and a 3D insert made to blend the road surface gently from the scenic break & into distance just after it crosses the brick arch road bridge at the extreme L.H. end of the scenic section. A trip down to Blackmoor Vale is now on the cards to fit the landscape into place and we can stand back for a look.
More pages have now been added to the Bucks Hill website to include separate areas for passenger stock & signalling. All of the sections will be expanded over the next few months, so it’s a constant programme of improvement.
Keep up to date at; http://www.buckshillmodelrailwayin7mm.com/
Lee has just sent a component assembly visual of the new 9F limited run, and it is generally anticipated that these will turn out to be the most detailed RTR model of the class in all it’s different variants.
Some variants are now completely reserved, so if there is a particular example you have your eye on, it might be an idea to check the current availability.
November 15th 2015
I have a demo table at the Jan 2016 Bristol O gauge show, so do come along and pay a visit if you want to update your backscene or make a bit of room for a 3D version. I’ll bring a few examples and we can talk about layering and any added perception of landscape distance to benefit the appearance of your layout.
Lee will also be bringing some of his latest releases to this excellent event. The U.W.E. Exhibition & Conference centre near Thornbury is spacious, quiet and carpeted throughout. With plenty of parking and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s one of our favourite shows.
A new-build Patriot is doing very well, and the project’s progress can be viewed in detail at ; http://www.lms-patriot.org.uk/
Lee will be attending the Reading O gauge Trade show on the 5th December with his terminus diorama. The details for this event are at;
Railway Modeller Magazine have now confirmed their acceptance of a version of an illustrated article on backscene preparation. This is now scheduled to appear in two parts in the spring of next year, and it looks at how we actually view a landscape, and then encourages a few basic safeguards to avoid inherent problems later in the job.
This will hopefully coincide with the arrival of a consignment of hardback books from the far east and the Missenden Abbey weekend course as well, so that is now shaping up to be a bit of a busy spell. The cover design has now been finalised, all the copyrights are secured and the compiling and publisher’s editing which are now in full swing, with page design to follow that, then approval, printing, binding and export.
Chris Nevard has now taken some pictures at Westcott using his tricks of the trade, and some proper photo bulbs. These will form a future Model Rail magazine feature, with period L.M.S stock and some informative captions from Jack Anziani.
There will also be some advance preparation for a Victorian G.W.R. photo feature, including some finish detailing of locomotives, with weathering, posed Andy Stadden crews ( he now has a 3D Dean cab positioning template) and lamps etc. We might be able to include some of Lee’s carriages if enough are ready in time.
A few pictures from a recent running session at Bucks Hill, with some visiting engines.
October 31st 2015
The ‘Bucks Hill in 7mm’ website has been expanded with new pages and content, so pop along to see the additions, and a few pictures follow here;
Andrew David has researched and written an article on the unfortunate role of the old Great Central wooden carriages involved in the Quintinshill disaster a hundred years ago. It will appear in Heritage Railway Magazine, issue 208-due on October 22nd. Two similar vehicles have survived, and have now been restored.
October 13th 2015
The November issue is definitely one to pick up, and is now on sale, including a guide leaflet to help those looking at DCC sound additions. Some stunning layouts are described, including some of my favourites, notably Brixham Bay, with it’s no compromise hand detailed backscene, really placing the coastal terminus firmly into it’s period and surroundings. Steve Flint has kindly allowed me a few of his recent super focus photos from an introduction to perspective backscene possibilities in the ‘Talking Point’ section.
The new 1930s 1/43 figures sets are now available, as three sets including adjustable porters.
Livery samples, with the 1912 crimson lake at centre
A recent gathering at Bucks Hill saw good attendance with the Warley mob in evidence, along with some new folks to meet and a few familiar faces to catch up with. Time just flies at these happy chinwag/running sessions, with unexpected visiting locomotives taking turns among the regular runners.
It doesn’t look as if we will be able to get the book launch done in time for the Warley show now. C’est la vie, all part of the learning process I suppose, I am working hard to get all the pictures coded in and sized, but it takes me far longer than any sensible estimate because of my inexperience. I will be back at Ian Allan this week with the job done.
October 1st 2015
It looks as though there might be some feature content appearing next year in Model Rail magazine. Chris Nevard is going to take some professional quality pictures at Westcott (which it well deserves), and also some of Lee’s terminus diorama as well.
I am also hoping to assemble a collection of unpublished pictures of Whitchurch Road for an article as well, and hopefully these can be edited together by Richard Foster with captions for next year. (Like myself, Richard has a fascination with the old Metropolitan, and therefore a very good taste in railways)
I have suggested an idea for another pictorial study article, looking at monotone postcard and album photographs of early G.W.R. subjects, so we’ll see what happens with that. After all, there was no colour photography then, only hand colouring and sepia tone.
A small farm cottage with an extension annexe needs to appear behind the arched road bridge at the up end of Semley’s platforms. This will be made in reduced scale to help introduce the 3D area of backscene, with it’s progressively decreasing scale, falling directly behind it. Does this make the model P3.5 ? I certainly hope so!
September 13th 2015
A few quick pictures of Semley’s new backscene panels from a mid-week fitting session, to be fully captioned when I can, and I also have an additional job of making a reduced scale house behind the brick road bridge at the up end of the platforms.
The Guildex event turned out to be a success, and Lee’s prototype G.W.R. carriage took it’s place behind a Dean single on the new diorama’s platform 2 road, with a Princess Royal pacific at platform 1 behind. Thanks for all the positive comments I have received since the show.
Next year, the station interior will be appearing as a backdrop to an update feature, with some of the latest releases, and we will hopefully be looking to re-model the backscene article that sadly missed publication in Finescale Review.
Particular thanks go to Steve Flint for permission to include some of the fantastic feature photography from this year’s January RM issue in the new book. The super focus images will replace some of my attempts, noticeably improving the quality!
Photos Steve Flint/Railway Modeller
September 7th 2015
Lee’s new ‘Terminus’ diorama has now been put to use at Guildex. It can accommodate more stock than his previous displays, which are all now for sale. A few captioned pictures can now be included here, and a few more appear in the ‘Finescale Railway’ section.
The building interior is deliberately generic and nameless to accommodate different engines, but has been modelled with some late Victorian/early Edwardian architectural features and a reduced scale backscene as a single focal layer, running parallel to the train shed wall.
What we really need for this cabinet is an ambient sound loop with the sounds of carriage doors slamming and awful burbled announcements about departing and arriving trains but I ran out of time to arrange this added feature. Maybe next time, which will be with Patriot and Jubilee class engines at the buffers when we go to the Warley weekend extravaganza with Ian Allan Publishing in November.
I will be visiting the Ian Allan editors next week to tie up a few loose ends like photo credits and copyrights for the new book, so that will make for a pleasant long lunch, away from the workbench for a change!
August 27th 2015
Just a few portraits from a mid-week gathering at Bucks Hill, with some flooding of the local lanes making the journey difficult. This is to be the last session before Telford, so I have borrowed some stock for diorama photography during this week, otherwise I will have no record of recent work.
A few pictures from the layout then;
Progress on this re-creation of yet another long lost class can be found, this time still within the first few years of the project at. http://www.4709.org.uk/
Scenic detail of stone embankment wing walls, overgrown boundary fencing, and a muddy cattle creep with water and hoofprints
Following last year’s Spring weekend at Missenden Abbey, I met Patrick Humphrys at the Chinnor cream tea special, and he has sent me a picture of the graduated sky base blue on the rear panel of his Welford Park layout. The paint is applied by blending two mixed shades together using fine foam mini paint rollers, and he has captured a subtle progression from atmospheric horizon haze to a clearer base blue above. This layout will eventually feature a 3D backscene, done in progressive focal layering, so come along and join us at Missenden where we will be studying backscene projects of all sizes and subjects.
August 17th 2015
Work is progressing on the various scenic and backscene projects with their looming deadlines, as well as ensuring the delivery of Lee’s new diorama for Guildex
A few cropped views of Bucks Hill from scale height follow here, some from the last running session.
Some development is being carried out with a timed exhaust smoke generator, so perhaps the locos will now weather themselves! It’s too soon to be sure on that one.
Excellent progress is being made on ‘The Unknown Warrior’, a similar new-build full sized Patriot, and the latest can be found here at ; http://www.lms-patriot.org.uk/
It made a nice break away from the bench to join up with Chris Langdon and the Missenden Modellers Summer week attendees for their afternoon jaunt on the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway. A very posh cream tea on the move, and a chat on the platform with some of the builders who want to do some advance planning work on their backscene projects.
Details of this ‘tea and train’ pampering can be found here;
Do have a look at the updated ‘for sale’ section if you have time, some of it is non-railway, but there are a few older projects that have to make way for new stuff because I can hardly move anymore!
Some other paintings and a decorative orrery light have been added as well, so call me, or send the page link to your friends…. so much to do lately.
August 4th 2015
We have now nearly finished installing two of Whitchurch Road’s station boards at Dave Alexander’s place, and next time I will make sure I get some pictures of some of his 5″ gauge stuff posted here for interest.
Only a few days of work remain before I return to Dorset, with two more backscenes for Semley, including Whitebridge Farm, Sedgehill House and the adjacent OS Field 77.
Thanks go to Marije Beckers, and her colleagues at the amazing Panorama Mesdag exhibit in The Hague. They have allowed me to reproduce a high-res image in ‘Creating a Backscene’ as an example of probably one of the most convincing artificial environments ever conceived. To study and visit this illusion, click on the translated link for details in English.
I have also been swopping E-mails with Martyn Welch over the last few days, partly because he recently visited Bucks Hill, and Kevin had the backscene’s ambient sound system on. Martyn has a new layout project on the boil which will also feature looped MP3 sound, with bluetooth triggering for occasional sound effects as well, so we spoke about how it was done. Here is a link to a three minute movie that Martyn took during the visit, and if you’re wondering why there’s no credit for the music, it’s because he did that as well, and it’s entitled ‘Autumn’. What extraordinary talent!
A few slightly tweaked pictures of Martyn’s 7mm scale weathering projects then, and a link to the rest of the gallery.
July 25th 2015
A few quick tweaked pictures from recent running sessions can go here, but all the other progress lately is tedious stuff like gathering copyright permissions, and other commissioned work that I can’t preview yet. There is more still to come supplying the Ian Allan editorial dept and their designers with the best resolution images I can find, to make sure the quality is up to scratch.
One of the permissions came from Malcolm Mitchell, to include a small thumbnail of a charming George Iliffe Stokes winter scene, and I visited the expanded ‘A shop’ website to identify the image. I became completely distracted from what I was supposed to be doing in no time, and I strongly suggest you do the same
A few pictures can follow here as proof of time well spent! with one G.W.R. (naturally) 517 class locomotive in the bay platform at Bucks Hill.
Like Malcolm’s, this website is really designed as a gallery, you can pause and click on most of these images to enlarge them a bit, allowing an advantage over the static printed pages of a book. I understand it is possible to output the book content as a download, with this extra capability built in, but most railway folks still tend towards the printed page and the bookcase.
July 14th 2015
A most enjoyable running session at Bucks Hill this afternoon, and a good catch up chat with some of the regular attendees. A few pictures follow here.
July 8th 2015
If you would like to undertake a background test panel for your layout at Missenden Abbey’s Spring weekend, then the booking is now open for a limited number of places.
This is the original classic weekend where as many as 60 modellers occupy the Abbey, working in several different areas. It is a great gathering of minds with lots to do, see, ask, learn and talk about.
Getting the best from your weekend session does mean a certain degree of preparation in advance, so assemble a folder with period maps, photographs and a file of any surviving features from a site visit along with layout pictures and sizes to get it all planned and positioned as best as possible.
The book now has a listing on Amazon, and can be pre-ordered for a late November release by clicking the link below.
Before too long it will have it’s own section, but for now, I can’t help but keep an eye out for it in introductory listings of forthcoming titles. Here’s one from Australia, with some descriptive outline copy. It’s all very exciting because I’ve never done this before.
This is the copy that goes with it;
All railway layouts deserve a fitting backdrop to bring the whole scene to life. In this book artist Paul Bambrick encourages scenic modellers to create their own landscape backscene. In this attractively illustrated book he introduces the reader to useful theory and history, with superb examples of illustrations for the reader to aspire to, but always concentrating on useful tips about how to break down the painting into practical stages to get the job done. The author deliberately aims the book at the average modeller who is not an artist. The backscene serves its purpose as an element of the model layout and even if the reader has not painted a picture before the author demonstrates through exercises and guide examples how you can make interesting creative choices about your railways appearance to achieve a well observed end result. Each stage is accompanied by sketches and photo examples of applications, explaining the principles and methods and showing how directly the reader can get the most practical benefit. The skills of building a layout or a model can be adapted to the job of producing a backscene. And if the reader would prefer a 3D backdrop, the author shows that the skills required require more modelling than painting so they are little different to any other scenic model railway work. The chapters follow a sequence from study to method, as a guide to avoiding common mistakes and to encourage the modeller to adapt the backscene to his or her own modelling methods, materials and preferences, eventually creating a backscene in the modeller’s own style, following his or her own view as to what part an environment should play as it surrounds a layout. The book could also be used to sort out any problems in existing backscenes – the modeller can easily look up the relevant guidelines on perspective, sky or buildings for example. The co-author John Ellis has also added useful sections on alternative methods and processes of producing backscenes using digital photography and editing software for those who are more comfortable with cameras and computers than brushes and paint.
June 15th 2015
There is some newly submitted content in the layout feature pages, and I have labelled the expanded sections. The new stuff consists of material from photo sessions that needed some tweaking. The home page slideshow has also been slowed and expanded.
Westcott shed detail
June 14th 2015
Ian Allan are moving their offices to a new site, but I have just finished the book before the re-location. While they settle into the new place, I will leave them be, and pay a visit when the time is right to see if it all makes sense!
It looks as if it will be a hardback book, so there is a cover sheet to be designed, but there’s time enough for that before it’s launched later on this year.
There are loads of suggestions to cure backscene problems, and ‘how to do’ easy 3D stuff as well, with hundreds of example pictures.
I have a batch of upright lineside trees to do for a large main-line layout to be set in winter time. These will follow supplied reference, and here are 30 or so examples of the type required, still needing twigs, fixative lacquer and colour spraying.
The second baseboard for Whitchurch Road will go to Dave Alexander’s place this week, to join the first one of which he has already installed. I will bring my camera with me because he does have some amazing railwayana, mostly Metropolitan related.
I must now progress both Semley, and a Diorama for Lee Marsh, depicting the buffer stops of a terminus station. Lee has sent a 3D Cad image of the new GWR 517 class 0-4-2T, done with assistance from Malcolm Mitchell, and the batch will be based upon this. It is a drawing of the basis of the model, not the prototype, so all the components like fixing screws and gearbox are included to check for fit and tolerance. They have even animated it to observe the oscillation clearances between the frames. The ‘Castle’ batch will be produced using the same method.
May 29th 2015
I have now signed a contract with Ian Allan publishing, so the job is to get all the layout spreads ready by the end of the month. I would like to thank Kevin Robertson for his great feedback and advice on this so I’d better get on with it then!
David Lane and the Risborough MC did their usual top job at Railex, with the very best quality combined with an interesting variety of scales and subjects.
Mike and Kevin helped to look after the Warley MRC ’82G’ loco shed model which is just that. There are no duck-ponds, branch lines or hedgerows at Templecombe Road engine shed. Mike passed his new camera over so I could try it out. A Canon SX60HS, very nice too, so here are a few of my efforts after tweaking.
May 23rd 2015
This is the finished view over Semley’s coal sidings, with the hedgerow now modelled in front, blending the 3D backscene into the fields. The three characteristic trees seen earlier on in the monotone picture of the Bulleid Pacific now appear to finish the exact appearance of the prototype, but as it was in 1912.
I am doing my own layout for the backscene book , which helps me to ensure things go in the right places and the copy reads OK, here’s a screen shot from one of the many illustrated spreads….. it’s a long job!
Mike Morris has built a Barry Railway 0-6-0 in an effort to try and finish some of his own collection of kits, and it takes a trip onto Bucks Hill at the latest running session, I think this might have been a Sharp Stewart built locomotive.
The Bristol Station display case has arrived in Vancouver BC, and I will pop a picture of it with its Rover Class 4-2-2 in when I can. in the meantime, I found a works portrait in a 1930s published encyclopaedia. Bulkeley left London on the afternoon of Friday, the 20th May 1892, working as far as Temple Meads, returning the following morning with the last train from Penzance. The short-lived engine was named after a long-standing Great Western Railway director.
I also found this interesting view of a Beyer Peacock condensing 4-4-0T between duties on London’s ‘Inner Circle’. I wish I had a Tardis, but I’ll just have to settle for pictures and models instead.
April 22nd 2015
There will soon be a great new illuminated diorama for Lee Marsh, showing a scene at the buffers of a main line terminus, and I will put in a picture as the reference comes together. The Swindon rolling test bed will most likely come after this static display because of the complexity of getting a tenderless ‘Castle’ loco to behave in sync with a fully working mechanism. The exhaust sound must be correctly timed, and to enable this, the locomotive must power itself.
In the meantime, before the old diorama is sold on, here’s one of the latest pictures from Lee’s gallery showing the 9F in situ, If you would like either one of these, contact Lee, and have a look at all the other activity and news on their page here; http://www.leemarshmodelco.com/blogs/news
There is a new feature section on Semley in ‘Finescale Modelling’ but it’s too soon to put any overall views in yet. I’ll just confine the images to details and reference for now, and here are a few from the latest visit, trying the first two linear landscape panels into position. The colours are generally fine, and we have a plan to include some more 3D blending work further along towards the dairy buildings.
The Finescale Review feature on Westcott is coming along well, but there might still be some more pictures to come yet.
Stuart Holt attended the Missenden Abbey weekend scenic session, and undertook some acrylic painting from reference on the Sunday. His trial section for the still ‘in progress’ Kyle of Sutherland layout can be seen here in position. It will eventually feature a relief model of Carbisdale Castle to give the model the right local ‘Scottish Loch’ character.
April 12th 2015
I’m not sure my memory is improving much with age, so let’s just say I’m getting the habit of taking the camera with me on my visits, and it did come in handy by chance at the weekend’s running session at Bucks Hill.
In the early years of planning any layout, seeking good reference out is one of the most important areas of attention, because it always shines through the job once it’s done. Here’s an example of one of the possible rewards that a persistent search might bring to light.
Reference rarely comes as good as this, and I find it interesting in it’s own right, at a first glance it looks a bit like a signalbox diagram, but the little drawing office catalogue box in the bottom corner gives it away as a P-way plan. Luckily, Mike is making a change from his previous building management work, to concentrate on railway projects, so do please use the link to see the first few pages of his new site coming together.
Well done to Vincent Caldwell for finally putting Moses Plat on the map, I do hope the Ocean Mails slowed for the speed restriction across the viaduct! The usual well staged and well lit super focus photography accompanies an excellent write up and even a portrait this time.
A set of photographs have been taken of Westcott, for a future article. It is to concentrate mainly on the on the 7mm scale collection of historic trams, but will include some layout content as well. A couple of crops from the many views taken follow here as an introduction while we wait for Jack to fill in their histories in caption.
Work continues on the second panel of the Semley backscene, which has some 3D areas blending layout features into the local landscape
Thanks for all the positive comments on the MRJ Bucks Hill article on the various internet forums and so on. In fact Barry and Paul had to combine two features to get it all into the allotted space and while there is some explanation of the backscene job in the copy, it was never a good idea to try and write a simplified description of how to do it in stages because you would have to leave out too much. Part of the brief was also to provide descriptions of the build up in the early stages long before I even knew about it’s existence, along with a bit of a tour around the scenic section as well. Best to make a proper job of it which is why I’m still doing bits on the book. Here are a couple of Barry’s glorious pics that wouldn’t fit either!
Thanks to Chris Langdon, Barry Norman and David Brandreth for inviting me back to Missenden Abbey next spring. Things will return to normal for summer and autumn, but if you want to get together to do some backscene and scenic work, keep an eye out for the booking openings at the Abbey.
A set of building components has been sent to Frankfurt to begin a 4mm scale Temple Meads layout, so early days I’m sure, but should be interesting down the line.
April 2nd 2015
An entertaining new end to end diorama idea might be to model a view looking at St James Bridge, Bath, as the Avon loops around to the right here at the south of the city. Basing the aspect on this John Cooke Bourne plate of 1846, some research could be undertaken to bring the scene into the late 1880s, allowing both standard and broad gauge trains to be displayed, slowly crossing the pointwork at the eastern end of the platforms. The partially wooded valley side rises behind the scene as a backdrop, and the added interest of the river traffic below completes the scene.
A new baseplate for a Temple Meads display with dual gauge timber baulks and ties. The metal blackened Bridge profile rails with their drop wires will be fitted next, then weathering and ballast.
MRJ No 238 is now available with a write up of Bucks Hill. Barry and Paul have included some of the lineside views into the fully captioned feature as an edit, and made a typically good job of the material and layout.
Work continues on Semley, and I will pop some progress work from this project in next time, along with some of the pic versions that wouldn’t fit into the MRJ article, and some new photos from Westcott as well.
March 23rd 2015
The latest Temple Meads case insert will soon be converted to dual gauge baulk road, and then dispatched to it’s new home in Vancouver, Canada. It will house a 7mm scale model of the famous Rover class locomotive Bulkeley, the last mile-a-minute flyer to run on the broad gauge out of Paddington. The bridge section rails will have drop wires to enable the locomotive’s DCC sound system.
This comes from an kind introduction by Lee Marsh, and I hope to have some more news from Lee about some future collaborations, including a working diorama of the Swindon Works Locomotive test bed.
This will coincide with the much anticipated release of the new Castle class limited run, and should look something like the photo. Getting it to work is going to involve Kevin and some head scratching!
Judging by the booking of the Prairie 2-6-2T series, these will be reserved fairly quickly, so take a look at the link to keep tabs on this run.
I borrowed an old picture of Bray near Maidenhead from a friend to include some details from it into the book in a section about villages.
Patrick Humphrys sent me another picture of his latest tree practising work, for his 1950s Welford Park 7mm scale project (A location near Lambourn), and this one was started in the Missenden Abbey classroom.
Barry tells me the next MRJ No 238 will feature 14 pages of Bucks Hill related content as well, so it’s a catch up of new developments including some new additions to the regular locomotive fleet.
March 11th 2015
Three intrepid visitors made the trip from Crickhowell to Bucks Hill for a mid-week running session, they were joined by five more from Andover, and a few local attendees eventually made the number up to fourteen.
A few ‘work in progress’ locomotives took to the main lines first, then some of Jack Anziani’s latest including a LNWR Jubilee 4-4-0 that I didn’t get a decent picture of…yet, and some Lee Marsh LMS 4-6-0s.
Some BH regulars then took turns before close of play, and here are some pics for fun.
I will soon be taking a few more photos of some of Jack’s latest additions at Westcott, and also looking through early GWR architecture for a suitable subject for a diorama layout in the 1870s era.
A few details from the first stage of a combined 2 and 3D landscape looking north from the higher ground about half a scale mile to the east of Semley station.
March 9th 2015
My guest weekend of tutoring at Missenden Abbey went pretty well, and the level of guidance was quite similar to that of the Pendon workshops last year. There were a few more modellers in this group though, and a wider range of subjects and projects to help with, so I did my best and delivered a couple of quick demo talks as requested with a flip pad and a felt pen to sketch things out big enough to see from the back!
What was certainly different about Missenden Abbey to the other classes I have done in the past like landscapes and so on, is that it’s usually just me, but here you naturally mingle with other tutors and modellers alike, so you end up learning stuff from everybody within a friendly and encouraging community.
If you are considering booking a place on one of the next courses, maybe as a gift for a friend or relative, I can recommend the experience whole heartedly. It’s a high standard, but it encourages beginners too so the balance is good, and we know this as several first time participants made a point of commenting on it.
Credit must now go to Barry Norman for letting me fill his boots temporarily, and get the ‘Missenden’ experience. To all the modellers who took a risk and signed up for backscenes and scenery, it was great to meet you one and all so thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt and loading the van as well!
Thanks also to Chris and David for making it a genuine success, and to all the more experienced tutors for their welcome as well. I am hoping to put some of Tim Shackleton’s pictures in here as an edit, and of course, I wish the very best of luck to the new ‘Finescale Review’ Magazine.
Next entry will be in a few days to hopefully include some pictures and also to put in some from a mid week running afternoon at Bucks Hill.
To sign off with, here is a picture of the traditional chocolate frog souvenir that you get as proof of Missenden initiation. You really do have to earn these, so here goes………….
The following pictures were kindly sent to me from John Turner, who came to Missenden with a prepared baseboard test piece gently contoured with a light skim of ground cover.
An unsurfaced road was marked first, and a mixture of PVA, sieved earth and tile grout was applied as a wet mixed paste and applied with a brush. While this was drying, we cut a strip of horsehair hedgerow base to act as a border and built some extra height on with fine chopped wig hair for the finer upper twigs. While still separate from the board, John then dressed it with a mixed variety of fine scatters.
To copy a line from John’s follow up e-mail ‘I have never done any scenic modelling’
If this is the first attempt, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the layout build, and thanks for the pics and feedback!
Patrick Humphrys had a good weekend working on a couple of trees for his layout, trying new methods and materials out. He sent me a picture of one that he dressed with all the fine outer twig structure and foliage as well as working with me to apply the bark and the upper branch colouring as well. He hadn’t done a tree before so well done indeed!
Quite a few had a good go on the Sunday at backscene painting, studying skylines, textures, colour matching and cloud configurations too just on test panels working from reference. Come to Missenden Abbey and try for yourself, you can see by the results it’s well worth the trip.
February 13th 2015
A round trip has been undertaken over the last few days, from Aylesbury Vale all the way to the snow capped Brecon Beacons. The first stop was at the wonderful Glan-y-dwr in Crickhowell. http://glanydwr.blogspot.co.uk/ and from there to see the permanently installed layout of Penpergwm Junction. Planning the backscene was the task, and at this early stage of construction, it shows a great deal of potential, with some generous areas allowing a couple of feet of scenic depth to work into, and a very well anticipated curving rear panel.
The next stop was among the Dorset villages of Blackmore Vale to pick up the first pair of rear panels for Semley, so south, then across the Severn at Chepstow, and down through Somerset to Shaftesbury. I will put some pictures up soon, but for now, here’s a reworked MRJ copy by Barry Norman.
With an overcast sky approaching from the east, the conditions will change gradually to a slightly hazy, sunshine break at the model centre view, between light showers, with another squall moving away west.
Many of the landmarks are dairy farms, and these will be included in very low relief, appearing between the hedgerows and treelines looking north over the common land, and the main road to Warminster. The village of Sedgehill is just visible to the north west, and Semley Village hall will be done in low relief behind the arched road bridge at the eastern scenic break.
A diorama will soon be made depicting a scene from the heyday of the Broad Gauge, providing a stage set for a 7mm scale Martin Finney Rover class tender locomotive similar to the pictured example below . It will feature an early disc and crossbar signal, and possibly a Brunel decorated tunnel mouth with a flagman’s cabin.
February 1st 2015
Lee Marsh made the long drive to Bristol with a couple of display cabinets, and a selection of locomotives. He also brought his prototype GWR Clerestory bogie carriage which warrants a few pictures, even though some work remains to be completed at their smart new production centre recently opened in Korea.
More details and progress can be found along with the locomotive range at;
A trip to Abergavenny is on the cards to help make plans for a very promising 7mm scale model of a proposed junction station at Penpergwm. The backscene will eventually become an accurate panorama of the locality as seen looking south over the line.
January 28th 2015
The Bristol show demo has come and gone, and Michelle and I met some new faces on the pleasant Sunday outing that this regular show has become for us.
I was pleased to meet Simon Castens of Wild Swan Publishing for a quick chat, and wished him well with the new project. The full range is available from the Titfield Thunderbolt bookshop athttp://titfield.co.uk/index.htm
A few chapter sections covering contouring and farm buildings have been added to the backscene book draft, and I have made a quick mock up of the cover as well.
We took the usual backscene and scenic displays with us, and two new diorama case inserts as well. A Temple Meads platform section shows nine of the arcade columns and their cast iron arches in a weathered condition. It comes with a 2D backscene and it all goes in a 750mm wide case
The other new case insert features a stretch of single line on a low embankment, passing an idyllic half timbered cottage surrounded by woodland.
I am now corresponding with some of the 70 students who will be attending the Missenden Abbey Spring modellers weekend, which has now broken its own record of bookings.
The Berkshire group will be moving their show venue from Langley to Binfield near Bracknell next time, and will shortly be publishing a website to cover the details of the new venue and what we can expect to see.
December 24th 2014
John Stockton-Wood has kindly given permission to include some of Barry’s photos of Llanberis in the photo chapter.
There are a lot of field boundaries and a few landmarks that need to be plotted on this next backscene, and this is the first sketch of the locality. I have two good OS maps to work from, one from 1888, and another from 1925 with a small file of reference photos including one original H. C. Casserley print. Many of the distant farm and village buildings still survive, so I should be able to pin most of it down quite accurately to 1912.
The British History Online site, and other local study resources provide written historical information, like the types of farming, cattle breeds and the sizes of herds etc.
December 12th 2014
The Missenden Railway modellers have made a superb job of the tutor’s introduction page on their website, so thanks very much to them for such a warm welcome.
Barry will return to Missenden after his other Spring weekend commitment, but if you need to do a bit of backscene planning as part of your project, then come along and let the Missenden organisers know in advance. Like the Pendon workshop, we can get together and do some preparatory groundwork to save time.
Click the link to find the interactive version and all Chris Langdon’s other railway related study groups…
If you do like painting and other Arts and Crafts, please explore the other Abbey Courses at;
Railway of the Month for only £3.95!
The Christmas issue is on the shelves with a full cover feature by Steve Flint, and a pleasant tour around the layout, some nice detail insets and some well adapted copy from Kevin and me.
Many other great layouts and manufacturers releases make up a bumper issue, along with a free DVD hosted by Paul Atterbury, the well known TV presenter and railway historian.
Click the link to reach the options, (the digital version allows blowing up the pictures)
The second draft of the backscene book weighs in at 82,000 words. Phew.
This photo shows the very talented Roy Connelly at work, painting a landscape from life. This picture will be included as a contrast to the approach we would normally take to backscene work which is working from recorded reference.
Lee is working on the corrections for the 9F project using the eye watering pilot model seen here. Next it will be fitted with a custom motor/gearbox and painted, then off to Cliff Williams and Bryan Robertson for fitting with DCC and sound.
December 6th 2014
Found yet another small painting whilst rummaging around the other day.
A couple of figures by the canal pound, while a lock keeper leans over the railings looking down at the approaching narrowboat. Another boatman would be leading the horse along the top towpath, pulling it into the lock.
An evening visit to Bucks Hill to drop off a diorama for the Reading Trade show and a chance to catch up with Lee, who brought Cliff Williams along on the long haul from Edinburgh. They had a van full of stuff, and plenty of news from events in Europe and future possibilities in America as well. One of the projects for the future is a larger working layout style display for exhibitions.
The second draft of the book is now ready for further editing, here are some more of the hundreds of detail pictures, each one has a relevant caption written to help modellers get the best from the different sections.
All the seasons are considered as well as 2 and 3D variants, with guidelines to help in doing layering and forced perspective.
November 25th 2014
I have been asked to join in as guest tutor at the Missenden Abbey Spring weekend, and gladly accepted as Barry has a clash of dates this year.
Very happy to help out, so come along if you would like to get a bit of backscene and scenic work in. I can bring a few samples with me and we can have a look at your project. They have succeeded with their winning formula of ‘hands on’ type study weekends, and more places are being reserved each time.
Click the link to view Chris Langdon’s excellent introduction to the course.
I noticed this picture on the wall at my brother’s house the other day, which of course I had completely forgotten about so here is a photo print.
A better quality image of my old Marlow Church picture, which is hopefully going to come in useful as one of the hundreds of example illustrations in the second draft of the new book. I hope to be re-visiting Wild Swan with all the additional material submitted within a month from now.
Two separate Bucks Hill articles have now also been done for the MRJ , but they are in a queue as the content for the next few issues is already committed.
Copy has now been submitted to Steve Flint of the Railway Modeller magazine for editing into the comprehensive full colour article on Bucks Hill. It has been structured as a question and answer interview style, with Kevin and me taking turns to provide the replies. It comes out with a set of Steve’s superb multi focal photos and should be a very slick result indeed.
Photo by Barry Norman
October 24th 2014
The second draft of my new book is being worked on at the moment, with more examples and step by step sequences being added in.
One of the illustrations is by courtesy of the Royal Alberta Museum, a fantastic natural environment diorama.
My old Metropolitan layout is now with Dave Alexander, and so here are a few last pictures for a bit.
And finally the last pic from Lee’s Diorama which is now in Scotland
The new moving backscene diorama will look something like this sketch
October 11th 2014
I am currently expecting a new delivery of 3D printed components to produce another simpler scale section of the Bristol Passenger station platform. This will be represented as it appeared in the 1930s with sleepered standard gauge rails and so will suit the collectors of locomotives from the ‘Big Four’ era.
Please let me know if you would like a Bristol display, it will look like the picture, but the roof will be protected by a super clear acrylic cover.
We attended the Steam Extravaganza at the Kings Cross Granary re-development on the Saturday, with both Gresley Beat and Copenhagen Fields layouts in attendance, with their Caledonian Road localites perfectly complimenting the theme.
An informative display stood alongside the models, informing the public about the very promising progress now being made with the AIMREC museum project. Some of the physical work has begun at Ashford now and other plans are being worked on by Cliff Parsons and his team.
The project can be viewed at http://www.aimrec.co.uk/index.html
The next demo outing will be at the Langley O Gauge event, Jack Anziani will be bringing some of his fabulous 7mm scale tram collection which is well worth a close up look.
I will be going through some of the book draft this week at Wild Swan, and will be teaming up with Kevin to progress an article for Railway Modeller Magazine.
Finally, a few views from a session of photography a little while back that I never got round to including, firstly a couple from Westcott.
A couple from Bucks Hill’s branch line platform
September 11th 2014
The Telford show has taken place, with a busy couple of days helping modellers overcome some of their backscene issues. There are some fascinating projects out there in the making, and I encouraged everybody to send me their progress pictures. In the limited time that you get to look around away from the demo, I managed to spot some exciting new products from the support trade, and I found the whole community to be vibrant and buzzing with new ideas. Other than the horrible journey on the Friday afternoon, it was fab!
Working closely with Lee as usual, we are going to present part of his trade stand next year as a working layout. This will allow the fine slow running qualities and carefully sorted sound systems to be demonstrated in a realistic environment. It should be informative as well as being a good experience for the visitor, including of course a photo opportunity for their own locomotive.
In the meantime, we have been developing a small range of super clear acrylic display cases with diorama inserts, one at 500mm width, and another at 750mm.
For the larger 750mm cases, I could also offer a section of Brunel style platform as an inset style, so for those lucky collectors of Beeson, Reynalds, and Mitchell engines it might be a nice way to keep the dust off. Please do give Lee or me an e-mail if this is the case…..sorry, no pun intended!
Here are a couple of photographs from Tokyo, with a pair of GWR Castle class locomotives in a display case, I believe one of these is a Stanley Beeson example, and the other is a Masterpiece. Both of these beauties come from one of the world’s most extraordinary collections.
I love using the products of both John Lloyd and Anthony Reeves of Green Scene and Treemendusrespectively, and new websites will shortly be presented in each case. They will both hopefully be using some photographs of Bucks Hill in their inspiration galleries.
A screen grab from a sequence animation of 3D component production, in this case a classically profiled Brunel balustrade.
Click the link to play a new short animation. A sketched component evolves into a 3D computer file, first as a wire frame, then rendered and exported, eventually becoming one of a set of components representing exactly scaled Brunel architecture at Sydney Gardens Bath. The work is by the capable hand of Richard Chetland.
September 1st 2014
Found another picture!
This view of Brasenose College dates from the turn of the century before three more bays were added in 1911 to enlarge the quad, they took the place of the two small shops beyond the tower.
The four nearest college bays to the corner date from as late as 1887 and were designed sympathetically by the late Victorian architect T. G. Jackson in the Tudor style in ashlar stone with fine oriel windows.
May 27th 2014
Railex 2014, a great show again, and quite a busy demo table, especially on the Saturday.
A bit of an attempt to get showgoers to have a go at painting this time, and it met with more success than I thought.
Three brave souls gave it a try on the Saturday, and three more on Sunday.
Just a couple of the test cloud results achieved with a bit of encouragement over the weekend demo.
Without exception before they sit down they tell me they cannot paint, but it just goes to show because I think they look fine!
May 20th 2014
The Pendon backscene workshop took place over the weekend, and I applied myself as best I could to the differing needs of the four layout builders who attended the advanced session. The picture was taken before we started work and this time, there was a mixture of 3D work, colour matching and painting from reference.
It’s an informal day, with plenty of chatter, but there are quieter spells while the guys concentrate on their projects and I look after them in turn.
We do test pieces that can be taken away, and tried in position on the layouts later, mostly from reference and maps where required.
Thanks to Martin Ray for the picture and the Pendon volunteers for the welcome, I did chat to Chris Webber after the course, and he gave me a quick tour of the Vale scene which was fun. The standards of modelling here do reflect their museum status, only excellence is allowed in this environment.
A further set of photos have now been taken at Bucks Hill, with a view to publishing illustrated material for the MRJ later on this year. Barry Norman and Kevin spent a day arranging stock and deciding angles and lighting. The best bit for me is that they have asked me to write some feature copy so I’ll give it my best shot!
I can’t print anything from their session yet but there are plenty of studies that would make top quality photo rich articles. So hopefully, one could describe the layout, and another could follow on, focusing on the locomotives and rolling stock.
This is one I did on Bucks Hill, but the magazine ones will be properly focused!
May 12th 2014
The guys at 3D print UK have featured the Temple Meads project in their ‘Stuff we’ve done’ section so thanks to Nick & Connor for doing a brilliant job.
Here’s a painting that I never got round to making a copy of. I recently ‘borrowed’ it back for an outing to the Bristol Exhibition, and this time I remembered to get a copy!
A well known spot with an irresistible composition, the posh residents of Princes Buildings at Clifton at the top right literally look down on the humble roadside inns & dock workers terraces of Hotwells below.
The painting has now found a new home, not far from Bristol funnily enough.
A new section of 2D backscene for Moses Plat is now nearly ready to be delivered and fitted in situ.
This section allows a transition from a townscape into countryside, while also helping to adjust the horizon line between sections. The progressive build up of a cloud layer allows two existing but very different sections to be left in position behind the layout.
April 23rd 2014
I have now received an E-mail from the new owner of the Bristol Passenger Station confirming a successful shipping to Tokyo in an undamaged state. Phew!! ever so slightly nervous for a bit there.He has already added period figures to the platform, and positioned a pair of GWR locos taken from his extensive collection.
Work on the new Westbourne Green Sidings diorama is beginning to gather pace now, and we are discovering that moving backscenes are tricky to work on! Perhaps in a month or so there will be a few images and clips to start describing this new display case project.
Another advert is scheduled to appear in the Model Railway Journal, to coincide with the forthcomingRailex 2014 Finescale exhibition, and a new look for this website is also being planned.
The new MRJ half page ad goes from urban to countryside in four pictures, and it matches the look of the previous one.
April 7th 2014
Both days of the weekend were spent doing the introductory backscene course at the Pendon Museum.
The time goes quite quickly, so you have to remember to keep an eye out and cover a few subjects before getting too carried away, and dwelling on one aspect of study to the detriment of others. So I plucked up my courage, and did a quick talk on basics first. A few dos & donts and then spending time on colour mixing and reference gathering etc etc.
The participants on Saturday all wanted to try painting a test panel from reference, and so we just got on with it, with each one studying and working from images that would eventually suit the size, location and mood of their layouts.
They just went for it! each and every one just got stuck in and the atmosphere was informal, so I just ran around, sitting down with each in turn, making sure the test panel was going to do it’s job when propped up behind the layout. I tidied up, washed all the pallets & brushes and drove the van home thinking ”mmm that went well” so it’ll be the same deal tomorrow.
I was wrong though because there were a couple of chaps that attended on the Sunday, and as we got talking about the layouts, they both wanted to study and work out different aspects, like doing contour profiles for 3D backscenes, and plotting from maps and reference. We looked at low relief background buildings in distance layers, and never touched a paintbrush all day long.
They went for it as well! it was great, different but just as enthusiastic, so to sum it up for me then, seriously well done to all and thanks to Martin (the Pendon marketing organiser) and the Museum for an excellent get together.
March 23rd 2014
The Temple Meads display case has found a new home, and will shortly be padded & crated carefully for its long journey to the Yokohama area of Tokyo.
A great deal of time has gone into recreating the details of the famous roof, and these can now be printed out at any size. Do get in touch if you have a mind to do a Bristol layout.
Some twenty very high quality photographs have now been taken of Bucks Hill. The method involves doing several images from an identical placement, with progressively adjusted focal points. All the views are then digitally combined into one . Because readers can now enlarge the pictures on tablets & phones, this allows both the foreground and background to be sharp.
March 10th 2014
The last section of the Westcott backscene has now been delivered, and while I don’t have a complete set of photos yet, here are a few to start with.
It has been a great layout to work on, so a big thanks must go to Jack Anziani for being endlessly patient with me.
He happily runs the layout while he’s waiting for me to take measurements & make patterns, so I can be working on the contours & angles to get it all to fit together, and from out of the blue a tram rattles past not six inches from my nose!
More photos now appear in the ‘Finescale Railway Models’ menu, with a few more images from the wonderful collection.