BWS Update 11: We made it! (I think)

After an intense couple of months working on the layout in almost all my spare time (in fact so intense I haven’t had a chance to update the blog since March) we have now reached the point where Bottom Works Sidings will be making its exhibition debut at Railex this weekend, at Stoke Mandeville Stadium just outside Aylesbury.

Although I’d put the same amount of effort into any show, and expect the same standard of operation, there is something a bit scary about debuting at what is probably the countries highest quality show, alongside some layouts and modellers that probably put my standards to shame… I’ve got Mark and Andy helping me for the weekend though and while Mark thinks he thinks he can sell the layout on the merits of his signals my plan is just to blame him for anything that goes wrong!

I’ve found it surprising the amount of time that has been consumed just on small bits and pieces around the layout, those that aren’t essential but help make the scene. I’d also not factored in much time to work on any rolling stock in my last post, one of the reasons I’ve been so busy recently and not cool as a cucumber like I dreamt may be the case.

Anyway, to get any readers who are interested in the mood, here are a few photos of the layout now things are ‘complete’:

It’s a cold January morning in 1973 and Stan has just arrived in the yard to relieve the night shunt turn. His plan for the day involves staying in the warmth of the crew room with a brew and avoiding going out into the bitter cold as much as possible. The remnants of a light snowfall a couple of days ago still lie on the ground.

A view through the trees past the buffer stops in the sidings towards the 3 loops during a quiet moment with no traffic in evidence. The sidings in the foreground are primarily utilised as overflow capacity for the coke works, either empties waiting their turn under the loading bunker or fulls awaiting their next departure slot.

Over in the coal yard, the majority of the snow has melted away. The driver of the JCB has gone into the office to check some paperwork before continuing his duties stocking the site.

The road leading to the train crew room drops away to the exit gate out onto a narrow lane that runs this far, and presents a semi-rural scene despite being so close to heVy industry. About 100 yards beyond the hedge, another fence line will cross the landscape protecting the quadruple track Barnsley to Mexborough main line.

If you are attending Railex at the weekend please do come and say hello and we will do our best to have a chat providing the layout isn’t having a meltdown!



BWS Update 10: Taking a Break

Throughout the BWS saga, I’ve always set myself a vague target of Getting the layout to a state where it could be classed as ‘essentially complete’ by the time I went away for a couple of weeks in Mid March. This would then mean should something amazing happen and I got an invite to Railex, I would have around 2 months for finishing off, adding extra detail, checking everything worked to a good standard and wiring up the OHLE (last job on the to do list.)

As the title implies, I’ve now reached that point so it seems a good opportunity to review how things have gone…

Scenery wise, the bulk of the layout is now treated, although as ever some further variation in colour and texture would benefit some areas.

I’ve also been adding further detail at the back, although this signal still needs bedding in the surrounding area is bearing more overgrowth as things progress.

The trees at the right hand end of the layout need a little further painting and dry brushing to bring out some more texture but look good. I also need to paint the buffer stops in a faded and filthy red, providing this doesn’t detract from the scene as a whole.

I’ve made a start on building cassettes and the connectors are ready to be attached to the layout so I can finish up around them – this will be the first job when I get back and is probably the only bit I’m not quite as far along as I’d like to be with.

Oly has built a signal box for the layout, which looks nice in place. To use an industry buzz word we all despise that was some good cross operator collaborative working! Once the cassettes are working I can finish colouring and texturing the coal yard and bed in the box, which shouldn’t take too long.

Finally, to stop Oly asking I posed some locos and stock on the layout, something I’ve avoided too much up until now:

Back in a couple of weeks…



BWS Update 9: A long time coming!

Sorry for the long delay in posting any updates on the BWS saga… there should have been at least one in the middle but it seemed to get forgotten about!

Much progress has been made in the last couple of months, the layout going from bare bones in the last set of updates to having a chunk of scenery attached now! Let’s have a tour round the layout as it now stands…

Arrival into the yard is by way of the gate (which also hides the joint between the layout and the backscene), the railway boundary at this point is marked by a substantial hedge, constructed using florists wire to create trunks, and then teased out horse hair for the tangle of branches on top.

The road runs up to the crew room alongside the railway… the HA van is a bit rough and ready and just a placeholder at the moment – I’m yet to decide whether to finish it or use something else here. The wire in the background is the DC feeder cable for the 1500v DC overhead (still to be installed)

The crew room itself provides a focal point at the rear of the layout. I’ve made this from scratch and am pleased with the end result.

Zooming out somewhat, we can look at the right hand end of the layout as a more complete structure… the DAS ballast in the foreground has now been coloured and was worth the effort I think. Trees in the background are supposedly a mix of Ash and Silver Birch, usually the first trees to spring up and become established in industrial areas I find.

Spinning the camera round, these trees do a pretty good job of hiding the fiddle yard exit at this end of the layout. You can also see OHLE masts in place, there is further work needed on these but they are getting there.

Finally, heading back a long way we get an overall view of the whole layout. The idea was to create something quite minimalist and advocating the ‘less is more’ concept. Hopefully the layout does that…

The big news is that BWS has made the final of the Cameo Competition, and will be appearing at Railex in May! I’m not quite sure how it got selected but am naturally really pleased. The layout will then be appearing at Uckfield in October.

Before then, as well as completing the layout and sorting stock for it, there’s a couple of ideas I’m looking at to make operating interesting and realistic, which will hopefully be a little different to those normally used… watch this space.



Does anyone remember? Anderstaff Yard

In a new series OTCM will bring you layouts from the distant past to the not so distant past that inspired us in a series inventively named “Does anyone remember?”

So does anyone remember this beauty, Anderstaff Yard? First layout I ever operated, ever ever. Would hope it didn’t have a tragic end, always thought the modelling was top notch and operation bob on. It absolutely nailed the period a young adult wanted to model, and the track work was right filth. I still always look on eBay just in case one day it appears, mothballed and forgotten, ready for two deviants to resurrect it.


January Modelling Day

Last weekend we had a trip down to Pete’s in Havant to do a bit of modelling. Despite some cold temperatures a reasonable amount of modelling got done and a healthy lunch was consumed, washed down with a decent pint.

Mark was multi tasking (or trying to) weathering some of his own stock for Glenmutchkin while helping Pete out building a Judith Edge 06 shunter. Now we have said before that Mark and Pete are OTCM’s very own version of the Chuckle Brothers, and this was again in evidence as Mark continuously went forwards and backwards to help out! End results from the day for Pete looked like this:

And for Mark looked like this:

John in the meantime was quietly making very good progress on a couple of circuit boards being built from MERG kits for the Scalefour Society South London Area Group’s new layout, based in the area around Blackfriars. In fact he was making such good progress he had finished and packed up by the time I thought I should take some photos!

With Oly skiving, the only other output of the day was from me, I spent the day working on some Model Scenery Supplies tree armatures that I picked up following their review in December ‘s MRJ. These look good from the outset and are a great starting point saving some time starting from scratch, but I found their appearance could be improved greatly with a bit of extra twisting on the branches. A quick coat in a filler and PVA glue mix was done before we left, leaving me with these:

Primarily these are supposed to be Silver Birch and Beech, these seeming to pop up on old industrial sites and around railways quite a bit. And have been trimmed down since the photo was taken to provide a little variety in height.

Next up is a coat of paint and planting on the layout to hide the fiddle yard exit, but I’ll leave that for a layout update post.