This week…. Ballasting!


Yep, it’s that mundane task that we all have to go through at some point. Maybe it’s because I’ve only got a smallish single track layout, but I’ve actually enjoyed it. I tried out a couple of methods on a test piece but in the end went with the old and tested method of applying the ballast dry, wetting with water and fairy liquid before fixing with 50/50 water/pva. The first results were seen a month or so ago when I ballasted the area in front of the platform. I suppose although ballasting was the main focus, it is also the start of the scenic modelling on the layout, something I’m genuinely excited about.

I suppose my approach, was similar to how I would approach weathering a wagon or locomotive. For several days before hand I studied photos of the area around Cwm Prysor and although these were black and white, it gave me a good idea of how things should look, in particular the trackbed of the loop.


The overall finish I’m really pleased with, but it took several hours to get the desired effect. The basis of the loop trackbed was Treemendus Earth Powder. Geoff Taylor had recommended this to me, and it’s a great substance to work with. I’m not sure what it’s made up of, but ‘Earth Powder’ really sums up the results. This was sprinkled on top of diluted PVA, before then adding the odd sprinkle of fine ballast. I then turned to Busch fine black ballast, a black sand substance which works well to represent ash ballast. This was also used as the basis for the the siding. Once applied though it didn’t look quite right, so after some further thought I decided to add some powder. This had the desired effect I was after, giving a textured feel. To create slight discolouration to the ballast, I added a dirty wash through a pipette which I found soaks evenly into the ballast giving a natural look as it seeps outward.


The buffer stop has come out rather well I think. It’s the standard GWR design produced by Lanarkshire Models and has been on the layout for several months. It had been sprayed brown when the track  work was done. However yesterday it was brush painted (along with the rail edges) with Revell 84. Once dry this was given a wash with AK interactive rust streaks. This same method was applied to the rail edges and  I think has created the desired effect.

A rather productive weekend I think and it’s one less thing to do. Next week I’m going to Das the bridge buttresses in preparation for carving the stone work, the results have been quite successful on the culvert portal, and with some advice on painting the stone work from Geoff Taylor. Once that is in place I can mod rock the surrounding area and begin making the lake.


So we are getting there I think and the target for summer is still looking favourable. I’m still learning, but the important thing is I’m still enjoying this strange, crazy yet wonderful hobby we share in.


Playing trains in Wonderful Wales

I have just spent a lovely few days in Wales, as a mini Birthday Holiday. The plan was to spend some time doing some location searching regarding the Blaenau Branch, but most importantly to visit and operate Geoff Taylor’s layout, Barmouth Junction.

Weather was awful on the journey over on Wednesday, with thick flog surrounding Cwm Prysor and Trawsfynydd, so I headed south towards my accommodation and a visit to Alan Buttler’s ‘Modelu’ workshop. It was truly fascinating seeing how the 3D printing process works. Alan also offered me a non stop tour of what remains of the Mid Wales Branch and Moat Lane Junction…with a grand finale being the view of the Clywedog Reservoir, the building of which was the last duty the Mid Wales line performed before closure.


Thursday came, and I awoke early to meet my friend Simon, as we headed off to operate Geoff Taylor’s ‘Barmouth Junction’. Before we move onto the layout, I have to say what excellent hosts Geoff and Sharon were, looking after us from arrival until departure (hope we didn’t eat you out of house and home!)

The layout really is something else, ingeniously designed with simply beautiful modelling. The start is ‘Dolgellau Sidings’ which I operated under Alan’s careful eye (as well as Barmouth Fiddleyard). This area is still being worked on by Geoff but it’s not hard to be able to tell what part of the country you are supposed to be viewing.


4585 is seen shunting in Dolgellau Sidings. © Alan Buttler

From here we move onto Penmaenpool Station itself. I have visited the real location many times, most recently last month with my Father. Looking at the model, and you feel like you are there….60 years ago.



A Collett Goods gets the right away with a train bound for Bala and Ruabon. © Alan Buttler


My Croes Newydd 7414 sits on Penmaenpool Shed, awaiting a return working to Bala.


Another of my locos, 4645 works a local Pickup Goods along the shore of the Mawddach Estuary © Alan Buttler

Finally we arrive at Barmouth Junction itself, where the Llangollen line meets the Cambrian Coast line. There is so much for the eye to take in, with the estuary in view behind the station.


An interesting move in the operation sequence, was seeing locos head off scene with a train to Barmouth, before seeing the loco return a few minutes later to turn on the triangle (which can be seen in the photo above).


Dukedog number 9000 is seen at Barmouth Junction while being turned on the triangle. ©Alan Buttler

It was a truly enjoyable day, and if I had any doubts about moving to DCC, they had gone by the time I had operated my first train. The lenz LH90 controller was comfortable to hold and would be simple to use at a show with Cwm Prysor.

Friday’s journey home took me back through the heart of Snowdonia. With the weather not as foggy, I stopped just East of Trawsfynydd to do some location spotting. I shall post more on this tomorrow, but it involves the idea of a ‘Modular Layout’ which in essence, will allow extended boards to Cwm Prysor.