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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 7:23 pm
by alan_r
The Peco tunnel openings are pretty ubiquitous but at the moment I'm not bothered about making my own. To try to make them look a little less 'from-the-packet' I also painted these in a totally different colour scheme resembling the rock faces around the layout (the local stone that would have been used). The standard sides never really feel right for me and I found this one on ebay as part of a job lot with more right sides than lefts, so I decided to take one side and turn it upside down, cutting the cap stones off and refitting on the new top (left side of the tunnel). I also glued it to the tunnel mouth to give a rising embankment and a level top. Unfortunately the plastic is quite thick so it didn't come off in one piece, however the bits went back together ok. There was a small chip missing, but after painting it looked like a damaged cap stone just as you might expect in real life so I'm claiming it was deliberate to make a more realistic model! :D
Painted Peco tunnel opening

The background wash colour gave the mortar, then I spent a very happy Sunday afternoon with a tiny brush randomly painting individual bricks. In its un-weathered state it does look a bit like a dodgey 1970s stone cladding, but weathering with a very dilute wash of black takes this away and I'm happy with the result. I used vertical strokes, starting at the top and followed a path that you might expect natural rain to make dirtier. These are now ready to place on the layout after the rest of the scenery is done
Weathered tunnel opening

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 3:36 pm
by Ex-Pat
alan_r wrote: There was a small chip missing, but after painting it looked like a damaged cap stone just as you might expect in real life so I'm claiming it was deliberate to make a more realistic model! :D

I had to look long and hard for this - is it the top left of the right-hand wall?

alan_r wrote: I used vertical strokes, starting at the top and followed a path that you might expect natural rain to make dirtier.

This got me thinking as to whether or not rain would wash away any smoke or exhaust marks deposited at the top of the tunnel arch as the locos entered the tunnel - my immediate thoughts were that any tunnel mouth would exhibit such marks. However reference to photos of tunnel mouths show very little, if any, such marks, so I have concluded that rain must wash them away, and your finish is extremely realistic!

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 5:57 pm
by PinkNosedPenguin
I had some Peco tunnel mouths on my N gauge layout and, although I painted them, was never very happy with them. Yours look great though - an excellent paint job :D

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 9:35 pm
by alan_r
Time to base-paint the scenery of the new module, with a dark bottom to the river and grey for the concrete channel sides. The end of the tunnel is also painted matt black to hide the fact it doesn't go right through

A long view shows the piped small stream from the left and the main river under the bridge both lining up with the rear module streams
New sidings trackbed

The end of the river was dammed with tape then filled with clear varnish and left to dry
Cast varnish river (wet)

Once dry it looks pretty good (and cheap at £3.50 for a 250ml tin). The only issue is it shrinks (note how the tape has drawn in at the end) so several additional layers will be required to fill it straight. The painted brick-sheet pillars of the road bridge are also fitted.
Cast varnish river (dry)

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 9:54 pm
by alan_r
The tunnel cover section was made up with polystyrene blocks, fillered and had the tunnel mouth fitted. Matchsticks either side of the track will align the tunnel correctly
Tunnel fitted to the tunnel covering section

With the tunnel in position the walls and sides close the gap. These will be hidden with bushes once finished
Tunnel in position

The distant shot looks like the tunnel module fits and I'm happy with the contours being realistic enough and it matches the rear module too
Tunnel approach

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 9:37 pm
by alan_r
I've now fitted the tops to the road and railway bridges
Bridges and pipe

Track laid to connect to the 180deg curve at the board join. The join will be hidden under the tunnel
Board interface

Track laid in the module, with several variations. I've gone for medium points in the siding, but also a long curved point where the track separates from the main line to see what this track piece looks like. The mainline of the other line therefore fits into the radius. Next to try a filler edge to the farthest siding to make a rail access area
Filler siding

Roadway painted light grey
Paint and filler road

Then a dark grey for the filler next to the siding. At the last minute, I also filled in between the rails of the end siding to make more of a service area. It is as much an experimental layout so worth trying new things to see how they work
Grey painted filler

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 9:50 pm
by alan_r
The buffers are painted yellow and weathered. A short length of Peco fencing painted yellow then closes off the end of the siding. I've also fitted an orange wire as a cable conduit at the board edge to help mask the join and because they looked so good on the previous module! :D . Wire stripped back and painted black to represent electrical cable
Buffers and orange wire

The previous modules were ballasted with 'n' gauge ballast, but this seemed very large. I had a bag of extra fine ballast from another supplier so decided to try this on the new module. It didn't seem that much different in the bag, but once laid it makes a remarkable difference and is a much more realistic scale
Extra fine ballast

Module looking much more railway like after ballasting
Ballasted track

A closer view of the ballasted points and tunnel approach
Ballasted tunnel approach

Then to fit the hut, dummy point motors and AWS box for the point motor cables to run to
Hut, dummy point motor and AWS box

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Sun May 20, 2018 4:51 pm
by alan_r
Another batch of Peco fencing, this time painted white and fitted to the road bridge to protect from the drops on the approaches
White bridge fencing1

White bridge fencing2

I also fitted more orange wire with the emerging cable painted black, running between the dummy point motors and the electrical cabinet
Orange wire and blackened cable fitted

I found a graded bricksheet file which I printed onto paper. This fades to black so will make the internals of the tunnel easier to hide
Graded brick sheet for tunnel

Once fitted, the tunnel looks quite good. Definitely a good find! :D
Graded tunnel brick sheet fitted

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:44 pm
by alan_r
Scatter finally applied to the green painted edges in front of the track and around the tunnel opening (mix of various greens and brown). More brown in the gully at the bottom of the embankment and at the road edges. Darker green next to the river where lush watered grass would grow.
Scatter over the green borders

To hide the 180deg curve of the track I wanted a quick, easy (and cheap!) lift-off cover. I reused the base sheets of the old storage yard and formed a frame to sit over the top of the curves
Cover frame for the end (unpainted)

Painting helps to contain any wayward polystyrene beads and will give the pva glue something to key to when I fit the covering
Cover frame for the end (painted)

On top of the frame I then stuck on a sheet of hanging basket liner. This isn't to scale, but the intention is to give a rough wasteland view in the distance when viewed from the centre of the layout, so detail won't matter. It is also simpler/cheaper than a backscene or of more sheets of contoured polystyrene with loads of scatter. I've also added bushes, trees and a hedge along the edge of the module. The hedge (lengths of sponge?) looked cheap and nasty in the packet so I didn't mind using it up here, but actually now I've put some bushes along it and the occasional tree it doesn't look too bad. It certainly helps to hide the join.
End covered with hanging basket liner

The view from the centre of the layout and the 'grass' in the background seems to work. It isn't meant to be a focal point, but merely a uniform background. I've also fitted some Peco fencing along the track edges, the field boundary and either side of the tunnel. Coupled with bushes, these all help to hide the joins between the module edges.
End cover hiding the track

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:57 pm
by TimberSurf
looking good! :D
Throw some tufts and clumps of vegetation/bushes on the hanging basket liner and it will look the part. :)

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:11 pm
by PinkNosedPenguin
Very well disguised - can we see a photo with the removable section lifted off?

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:55 pm
by alan_r
Thanks for the comments

Not sure if this is what you are asking PinkNosedPenguin, but here are the three new modules separated from the base:
Three new modules

Closer view of the scenic modules
Since these are very lightweight, I thought it would be interesting to see what they weighed. I needed to put some blocks on a kitchen scale to balance the main module on, pressed 'tare' to zero the reading then placed the module on top.
As you can see, the main module is coming in at 1185grammes (2.6pounds / 41ounces) hence no need for any substantial frame to support it.
Module weight 1185g

This also makes moving modules around much easier, and turning upside down to shake off excess scatter etc whilst making it in the first place.
Before I ballasted the track, I weighed the bag of ballast and again after ballasting the track and got a difference of 256g, so over a fifth of the module's weight is ballast!

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:48 pm
by alan_r
With the front scenic module pretty much done I thought I'd post some pictures of the road bridge which forms a feature in front of the railway. This also stiffens the structure with some height as the river and banks mean the module is quite thin in this area. The piped stream of the left emerging into the main river channel looks like a good dodge in terms of linking this module with the scenery behind it :D
Road bridge

The varnish poured river seems to work well and I'm happy with the overall effect. The wall plug ends forming the opening to the piped stream also work well and cost practically nothing.
Road bridge diagonal

The trouble with camera shots close up is they show all manner of imperfections not obviously apparent in the flesh. Here I've noticed just how out-of-vertical the right hand retaining wall of the bridge is. D'oh! :oops: . Otherwise though, the texture of the brick sheet looks good and the plastic material makes it easy to glue together. The mix of cardboard for the bridge deck and brick walling seems to go together well too.
View under road bridge

Placing some model cars shows the scale a little better. Old era bridges often tend to be a little too narrow for modern cars as reflected in this shot!
Cars approaching bridge

Spreading the cars out more gives a good impression and livens up the scene a bit
Cars on road

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:24 pm
by alan_r
It has been a while, but I've now made progress on the final track module to link the oval back onto itself. This takes the mainline track and curves behind the back-board, joining to the station and siding. Here I'm using large radius setrack pieces to mark out the route
Track planning on new module

As with all of my other track laying, the track is to be held in place with cardboard pieces to stop it moving before ballasting. These were positioned with the setrack, and will guide the flex-track when it goes down.
Sticking the cardboard track grips

The whole trackbed is then sealed with grey paint, which will hide any gaps in the ballast.
Paint-sealing the track bed

The flex-track is then cut, joined and thoroughly tested. Here you can see the curves into the back of the station/siding behind the backboard.
Final track cut and placed1

Here is the view from the centre of the layout, showing how it links into the rest of the scene
Final track cut and placed2

The curves are quite sharp and not realistic gentle bends, but I thought I would try such tight bends in the viewing area to see how they work (or not!). I can always cover them over at a later point if they really are that bad. It means that the trains will be visible for just that little bit longer rather than being lost for too long, so now is the time to try it out and see if it is something I would do again, or whether it will become one of my 'new layout rules' for in the future that curves would have to be larger than a certain radius.

Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:01 pm
by alan_r
Next stage is to put down some cardboard to create a road at railway height and to allow me to make a level crossing. The road edge also makes a perfect straight-edge to hide the baseboard interface/join. In the far distance I've put down some polystyrene blocks to create a cutting for the railway to run in and to bring a road and bridge to a higher elevation for the town section. This should hide the trains turning the corner when viewed from the centre and will also disguise the place where the trains disappear under the scenic background. Since most of the layout so far is scenic fields, I also want to have a go at a more built-up type of area.
Card road and polystyrene blocks

As previously, I've cut some orange wire to form cable protection as it passes under the tracks, to connect the dummy point motors to an electrical cabinet, which should add some nice detail to an otherwise stark trackbed. Wooden 'lolly sticks' painted grey form concrete walls either side of the track in this industrial area. The electrical cabinet and base is also made from short cuts from the lolly sticks.
Points and orange 'cable conduit'

A close view of the level crossing, with cardboard strips stuck down either side of the rails. A careful balance between not being too high that they snag the train wheels or get damaged when cleaning with a track rubber, but also not too low that they look like a massive trough that a car wheel just couldn't negotiate!
Cardboard level crossing

To create some 3D relief to the road I've also made separate pavements to see how they affect the look. They seem too thin to be to scale, but it will be interesting to see if they make much of a difference.