£6.28 or 40p?

I took Star for a walk after lunch and called in at the pet shop on the way home to get some sand for ballasting the track. Two grades of sand were bought, bird sand is coarser and has been used to build up the bulk of the ballast.

(1) Sand, applied with a spoon and rubbed into the gaps between the sleepers by hand. (2) Dry brush used to shape the profile of the ballast. (3) “Wet water” sprayed over the ballast so that the glue will permeate better. (4) Diluted PVA drizzled into the ballast to hold it firmly in place. 

Fine chinchilla sand will be added for the cosmetic topping to hide the HO scale sleepers after a few days when this base has dried.

I use two sorts of sand because the fine stuff tends to crack up as it dries if applied too deeply, also because the bird sand is cheaper at 40p per kilo as opposed to 98p for the chinchilla sand but just take a moment compare those prices with the that of ballast from a model shop.

£6.28 a kilo, or 40p, which would you rather pay?

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Paved with good intentions

The saying goes “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

I had every intention of going to the pet shop to get some sand and grit after work, but I fell asleep on the settee instead! Not wanting to have wasted a whole day’s modelling I have tried a new way of making roads. Dry filler was tipped onto the area where the road and level crossing will be then carefully brushed into shape. Once I was happy with the profile it was sprayed with water and allowed to set. The crossing is located between the two sets of points, the only viable place for it to be because the lines to Rio Paleta and Resurreccion are at increasingly different heights as they get further away from the station.

Black poster paint, diluted with a mixture of water and PVA was then applied. The result is far to dark at the moment but weathering by dry-brushing with white acrylic paint will cure that.

The road will probably break up over time, due to it being a hard crust over dry filler on a foundation varying from solid plywood to soft hanging basket liner. Drizzling water into the cracks should stabilise the damaged areas by activating the dry filler below the fractured surface and make them look as if they’re the result of shoddy third world civil engineering in an area prone to earthquakes.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Super slow

Having made fairly good progress so far with the scenery at Bodjio I’ve now ground to a halt. I was sure I had a bag of bird grit somewhere in the garage but I can’t find it so ballasting the track and creating the roads will have to wait until I’ve been to the pet shop tomorrow to restock.

In the meantime I have given the station at Cuarto (above) a new roof to match Bodjio though the Hotel Ferrocarril still retains its original wooden shingles. I got as far as cutting the paper to fit the gunpowder shed at Rio Paleta before deciding that repainting it a lighter shade of grey would be a better idea.

The gunpowder shed is very close to the front of the layout, located between the track and the baseboard edge, with the turnout for the mine immediately behind it. This means the roof may occasionally get knocked and paint would be both less susceptible to damage and easier to repair than paper.

Returning briefly to the station building at Cuarto.

While photographing it this morning I was reminded of another Tri-ang station conversion, also using paper overlays, that I made not long after I started working for British Rail. It was back in the 1970s and the railway did not use Tipp-Ex, instead preferring adhesive paper strips (which tasted awful when you licked them to dampen the glue). I used a roll of this correction tape to add overlapping “planks” to one of my old Tri-ang buildings. The result was quite effective and made the station look as if it were made from wood instead of brick.

Unfortunately it seems that various brands of liquid paper have completely replaced the paper strips in stationery supplies nowadays. I suspect that not many companies still use hand written double entry ledgers for their accounts either, another lost skill.

Ho hum, I digress, and not all that briefly, sorry.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Retro modelling, Toy train chit chat


A very long time ago a young lad would avidly read second hand Railway Modeller magazines from cover to cover. All those years ago there were regular adverts for Superquick building papers, a name well known to older modellers.

That young lad was me, and I was quite surprised to find that Superquick papers are still available today. Sometimes embossed styrene sheet is over-scale with the details. Prime examples of this are bricks and roofing slates which, when scaled down, are virtually smooth and devoid of relief.

The buildings at Bodjio, which are converted from OO/HO models made by three different manufacturers with three different styles of roofing, have been vastly improved by the addition of uniform tiles on all the component parts.

The complicated roof line of the station proved surprisingly easy to do, paper is so much easier to work with than styrene sheet. Of course, the Superquick papers are designed for OO scale but tiles comes in various sizes so they work perfectly well in O scale.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Retro modelling, Toy train chit chat

Bodjio to Grande

The new area of scenery now has about three quarters of the basic grass cover glued down, the rest is cut roughly to size and waiting for the paint to dry on the extended rock face before it too is glued down.

The station building for Bodjio requires some work on the roof before it can be set in place so, for now, it is just sitting on top of the grass.

Bodjio in the distance, Grande in the foreground, with the scenic work now well under way around Bodjio there is just one small area of the layout left undeveloped.

The line can be seen curving out of sight under the clock tower. The backscene at the end of Grande will be retained so that the rest of the city does not need to be modelled.

The area between Grande’s backscene and the cutting curving into Bodgio could be modelled as a short section of street running, as is the case on the approach to Tacna (the station that Grande is based on), but I’m inclined to use this corner as a small staging area where freight cars could be stored as if they are at industries elsewhere in the city. The shunting engine could then deliver and collect cars as required when making up freight trains in the station. The best of both worlds would be to model the street scene but also use the area for switching freight cars on and off the layout. It’s for the future though, for now I’m concentrating on the Bodjio area…

And playing trains too! This morning’s Grande to San Fernandez stopping train was worked by railcar 21, seen above about to cross the Jones River after departing from Bodjio… Running late, in true FCPyF fashion, but who cares? There’s never any reason to hurry in Sierra Oculta.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Menos Bodjio

I added loft insulation and torn up newspaper as a scenic skin around the junction area yesterday. The glue has now dried so it is possible to start the next stage but I’m not in the mood for working on the layout at present. A single sheet of hanging basket liner is partly cut to fit though and the visual effect is pretty good… To my eyes, being used to British countryside.

However, having stood back to look at it the thought passed my mind that the railway is turning out far too green. I have never been there, and almost certainly never will be able to visit the area for myself, but photos and videos of the real railways that have inspired the FCPyF seem to be in less verdant scenery.

Possible explanations…

  1. Sierra Oculta has a unique climate, caused by the topography,  which sets it apart from the surrounding counties.
  2. Sierra Oculta is not actually where I think it is.
  3. Sierra Oculta has an exceptionally devious Ministry of Tourism which has developed a way of photo-shopping every image that is uploaded to the interwebby, making them look greener than they actually are.

I think the easiest way round this is to go with option one but gradually change the scenery, once it’s all roughed in, by working fine sand into the “grass” and get a more arid appearance.

In the short term this means that the layout’s appearance will be better than it would be if areas of scenery were left completely untreated. Also, the hanging basket liner gives a lot of strength to the scenery when it’s glued in place, chinchilla sand and more diluted PVA will only add to this strength.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Mucho Bodjio

After a great deal of soaking with water to soften the ballast, and a few choice swear words, the old Tri-ang Super 4 from the area where the high and low lines meet has been lifted and replaced with Peco flex-track. This curves round through the junction then drops by about an inch and a half on an easy gradient to meet the track at Grande, thus completing the connection between Grande and the rest of the layout.

The gap between the main layout and Grande has been bridged using wood salvaged from an old pallet. The minimum radius is about 17 inches, not a problem for the On30 trains to negotiate. Carefully placed buildings and other scenery will disguise both the tightness of the curve and the comedy carpentry.

The new station in the corner of the garage will be called Mucho Bodjio. Partly because this has a slight Peruvian ring to it but more because the name reflects the “geology” in this area of the layout.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat