Sunday 28 October 2018

Static Grass

Eventually it had to be done - a first foray into static grass. However, there were a couple of steps to finish off first.

The first job was to finish the landscape round the mill. In the last post I was laying polyfilla mixed with brown acrylic paint and water to bed in the mill and raise the land. All went well but I needed to raise it a little more. No problem except that I used a new box of own brand filler from a value store and instead of drying solid it dried to powder so all needed to be scraped out and replaced with a more reputable filler.

The second job was to finish the river. I'd done it in two parts, left and right and just needed to put one last coat of Deluxe water. As in a previous post, this stuff dried way thinner than expected so one last coast was all it needed.Well blow me down, this coat went and dried all thick with a curved edge to it. There are definitely times when railway modelling can drive you to drink. There's no going back short of ripping up the whole river. It isn't bad but I know that before this last coat it looked better.

Anyway, time to try the static grass device. I'd bought a sieve version as recommended by the war gaming fraternity and after a bit of play I chucked down a layer of 2mm green over the whole area which made a huge difference.

After a trip to ExpoNG it was time to take the bull by the horns, throw caution to the winds and make more progress. I'd found Kathy Millatt's videos several months ago and saw her recommendation for War World Scenics Layering spray so I had a can along with many different sizes and colours of their range. I have to say I really like them and they were easy to use. Here's some photo's of what has been achieved so far. I hope you like them.

Monday 30 July 2018

No going back

There is progress to report. The mill has finally been put in place and glued down. There is still work to do on the front openings and providing some chimneys but enough has been done to justify committing the building to the ground. A significant amount of multi purpose filler has been used to complete the burying and bring the ground up to the height of the front door. I always mix acrylic paint, burnt umber, into the filler so that if scraped, it doesn't show white. I could have added some black as well as this batch is drying lighter than before.

The mill wheel motor has been glued down but the housing is still loose.

Other work done includes the ballasting. The sleepers and rails were painted and then the ballast done. I've also added the stones to the right hand side of the river. Still some fettling to happen there before I can add the water on top. I do need to think how the side openings are going to be disguised!

Tuesday 1 May 2018


With the walls painted it was time to turn attention to the roof. It's not too complicated, three basic rectangles but the fourth piece has what might be considered an extension piece with a section of corrugated roofing over the window. Who knows why that is there. It's in all the photos I have but I have no way of telling when it was added. I have to presume it was not part of the original mill building but was added when a window was changed or when a leak occurred.

Anyway, onto my usual material of Wills sheets. The wheel housing and right hand extension were quick and easy to do and I moved onto the rear section which I got slightly wrong but, no problem, I have lots of Wills sheets, so I went to my stash and found that I didn't - what I had were plenty of corrugated sheets but no spare roofing sheets! I am fortunate, living in Reading, to have a couple of model shops within 30 minutes but both of them keep only a random selection so the chances were not good that they would have what I wanted in stock.

In the end I decided to go back to that old faithful of modelling materials, card, and not just any card, but card from a cereal packet (Shredded Wheat in case you wanted to know). The actual roof shape is very quick and easy to generate. I drew lines on the card at 2mm intervals to give me a datum for adding the tiles.

Onto the tiles themselves. I first used paper onto which I had drawn a pattern but when I glued it down it went soft and lost all detail. I used a wet glue which was a mistake and I had used cheap paper, forgetting how it would behave.

I needed some card that would be thicker with paper and I also needed some glue that was not so wet. My wife had some 200gsm card (paper is often 80gsm) and it was black so that looked ideal. There wasn't any way to print a pattern onto black so I printed a sheet of squares on A4 and, with the card sideways on to the sheet, was able to score the card sufficiently. Hopefully the picture below gives the idea.

The grid was made of 4mm squares which is probably a little large but I didn't want to spend the next year doing this. Once each strip was separated I then created the edge of the tiles by cutting through the strip, again using the paper as a template. You only need to cut through half the strip so it all holds together.
Once you have sufficient of these (I did them in small batches alternating with gluing) I set to stick them down. I went out to the local DIY store looking for glues and saw Bostik. I know that some people detest this glue simply because it is stringy but it does have two advantages, first it isn't water based so doesn't turn the paper/card to mush. Secondly it dries relatively quickly. I found I could only work on two rows at a time before the glue dried. It also doesn't matter if you get some glue on the outside as it is going to be painted.
What I did find was that the strips of card were very curved after being cut but with the glue drying quickly I would use the ruler, as above, to give a straight edge against which I pushed the strips I had just laid. The ruler needs to be removed with a twisting motion to prevent the tiles lifting but it is relatively easy.

The other advantage of this glue is that the thickness of it has created a very stiff shape. I had expected to need to brace the roof but now I don't intend to and if it sags then it will just be doing what all old roofs do.

The roof was then added to the building using Deluxe Materials Super Phatic and a ridge tile added, made from 6mm with card suitably scored at 6mm intervals. This was done by guesswork off the grid. I doubt anyone can see that a  couple of the lines are wonky.

And here is the end result ready for painting. The mill wheel roof has already had paint. The section on the right is unpainted Wills and the black is card. I'm pleased with the look and I have to confess I enjoyed going back to a much older modelling material.

Sunday 15 April 2018

Paint and Water

It's starting to come together. At this point it really is a case of working on several items at once. The Mill needs painting but also needs to blend into the wall beneath it. The wall beneath it needs painting but it needs to blend into the bottom of the Mill Race. This morning's first job was, therefore, to fill in the 'floor' of the mill race while listening to the Chinese GP. After that it was a case of making sure there were no gaps at the edge. I alternated between filler and Deluxe Materials Super Phatic glue which is good at bridging holes.

Once the base was in and reasonably dry I painted the floor with a dark brown/black/green colour and then set to painting the walls. This was again a mixture of browns and greens but applied with a sponge and a finger. Effectively it was dry brushing but with a sponge and where I put the paint on too thick I just used a damp finger to spread it the paint out a bit. When it came to the wall under the Mill I also used the sponge on the Mill itself to blend it all in.

There is still the need for some washes of reds, greens and browns but generally it's best to not overdo it, in my opinion, by trying to cover every stone.

The next task is going to be to add the water into the race. This is going to be a serious exercise as there is a lot to fill but hopefully the four bottles of Deluxe Materials Aqua Magic will suffice otherwise I'll be buying 4 more!

Saturday 31 March 2018

Mill cladding

Don't you love wet bank holidays when you are just forced into spending your time modelling. I had planned to get into the garden over Easter but as that would require waders due to the rainfall we had yesterday...

A couple of shots that show progress. The mill is being slowing clad in embossed stone from South Eastern Finecast. The Wills sheets I had planned to use had stone work that was just too large. This is about the right size. I'd not come across them before but I ordered a sheet more in hope than expectation and it turned out to be what I wanted.

In the photos below you can see the mill in place with the mill wheel housing both separate and in place. There is a window in the wall of the mill housing through which you can presumably see the mill wheel going round. I was thinking how to achieve this when there was an article by Geoff Helliwell in this month's Railway Modeller concerning N20 motors. These are small motors complete with gears so I bought a 6V 30 rpm motor and if I run it at 1.5 volts it turns suitably slowly. I'm going to mount it on the embankment and make the mill wheel housing slightly less permanent than the mill building itself in case of future maintenance. The wheel is the Wills wheel.

Friday 30 March 2018


Another flurry of activity has taken place. With the Mill building in prototype form it meant the groundwork could be finished off. There were a very messy few evenings where I carved and shaped the polystyrene and then I used up a coupe of tubes of border adhesive and laid down some strips of J Cloth. As that was drying I mixed up some polyfilla, added some brown pain (not enough) and was fairly liberal with the gloopy mix to eliminate a few areas that were still too flat. IT was then left to dry and 48 hours later some of it is still damp but that's fine. The overall effect is pleasing. If I did it a second time I'd blend the right hand side into the backscene better but too late now and it's amazing what you can hide with trees and bushes!

Here's an overall view of how it looks. The top fascia has been mounted at the back just to keep it out of the way. That is not the usual position!

Monday 19 March 2018

The Mill

Snow day! The Beast from the East II meant I gave myself a day off from chores or driving anywhere and focused on building the mill. I'd recently filled in the scenic area with polystyrene - more use of Celutex having been abandoned due to having fibreglass in it which isn't good for anyone, especially the cat. Now it was time to tackle the mill.

There are many problems about the mill, not least not having any decent plans or pictures. I've trawled all my books, the internet, friends archives and the majority of pictures are of the mill in later life. The best picture was from a Railway magazine but even that shows the mill in a fairly abandoned state.

What I have discovered is that it is essentially L shaped with two extensions, one of which goes over the mill race and houses the mill wheel. It's embedded into the hillside and the judging by the windows and doors, the read portion (which must be the living accommodation) must be higher inside than the working portion at the front. Overall it appears to have 4 different roof angles and is a mixture of stonework, timber cladding, rendering and timber framed. Oh and did I mention no plans or drawings. I know I could go up to Welshpool and do a site visit and ask to measure the actual building but I'm not that sort of modeller.

It was going to be trial and error so I started with a cereal packet mock up but that was just not right, I'd clearly got the elevations wrong. Still, it gave me the direction to move in with shallower roofs and reduced depth. I found a picture of the mill with a train going by so that helped to estimate the height. I then progressed to the second mock up but this time out of mounting board.

I started with the base and just built up the sides. After I had done the first left corner I realised it was still too small so I raised it all by 10mm just by putting a second, larger, piece on the existing wall. There's nothing to say what is right or wrong so I just progressed round the building adding extension pieces and walls as I thought it looked right.

I still have the extensions over the mill race and to the right of the building to do but they should come quite quickly now that the basic shell is there. What will happen next is that this will move from mock-up to the actual building by just being clad in different Wills sheets. I'm coming to the conclusion that the rendering was potentially a later addition so I will mainly use the same stone as I used for the mill race walls along with timber cladding. There is just a small amount of timber framing on the front face, most of it is on the right hand side.


Ever since attending last year's Welshpool Gala and spending an inordinate amount staring at it in the loop, I have been wondering how t...