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Pentewan Light Railway

The Pentewan Railway in Cornwall was possibly unique in having three* gauges in its lifetime. Christopher Hawkins built the original rai...

Monday, 3 November 2014

PLR at ExpoNG

Well the day came, it happened and I'm glad it is all over.

It largely went to plan. Packing the van was a challenge, but luckily my friend Steve helped us do it properly. Set up on Friday night took the best part of 3 hours, and we just got to the hotel in time to persuade the barman to give us a drink.

Everything worked as well as could be expected on the day. We had some challenges and soon realised it was better to abandon the planned realistic operation (clay up, coal down) in favour of plenty of action to please the crowd - Hensbarrow has never seen so much traffic!
I would especially like to thank Gary, John, Mark, David and Steve for their help and support, and doing nearly all the operating. Due to a quirk in layout placement the back-room operations area proved quite an exhibit in its own right.

With David's help the boards are back in the loft. Some repairs are required and it will be a few weeks before it is fully operational. I'm looking forward to working on the next developments without any pressure.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Here's hoping it's worth it

With just a few days to go, the construction of temporary staging, fiddle yard, traverser, lighting gantry, etc. is all complete. There is more trackwork behind the scenes than in front - all just one show!

The last push will be to try and get some more wagons ready and a few more running trials.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

One month to go!

Oh dear - just one month to go! I think all my fellow O14 exhibitors have been good to go for some time, but I still have so much still to do. A 3 week holiday followed by a week + weekend of working has meant no progress since my last post.

However, I think my fiddle yard plans will work, Sn3 track is on the way as are A frames; runners and bolts for the traverser have arrived; and I have started dissembling the sections in the loft. So it's just wood to get and construction can begin. And then it's wiring, lighting, wagons - arrgh!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Scenery nearly complete

Most of the scenery on the the bit going to ExpoNG is now complete. Just some of the quarry buildings to finish and bed into the landscape and its good to go. It's really far from finished as lots of the details will be left out - unfortunately this is likely to include the planned big derrick crane. Anyway this project was never about actually finishing it - as what would I do then!
So time for some updated shots -  some seen before sans vegetation.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Getting wet

The time had finally come to get some water into the stream and leat. The intention was to use one of the poured water systems and after some research I settled on Magic Water which I acquired from EDM models.

I of course read the instructions fully before using it (didn't I? - oh!) so took all the necessary precautions to avoid any issues - but:
  • It leaked. It shouldn't have - I had tested it with water several times, each time plugging all the leaks with waterproof PVA, varnish etc. It didn't leak that much but luckily most of the drips fell on the newspaper which was still down from the prior leak checks. I think one of the problems is it takes hours to set so has plenty of time to ooze through any tiny holes.
  • There were very prominent meniscusses (menisci?) especially along the leat and around the viaduct piers. This was partly a result of wicking into porous scenery and vegetation (as noted in the instructions), and also possibly through loss of resin, i.e. the meniscus was the high tide and the level went down slightly through the leaks.
 The instructions suggest the water feature should be made before you do the rest of the scenery, and any porous scenery should be prepared with a thin paint of Magic Water along the waterline. This is all very well but it meant I should have done it 12 years ago. And in this time the plans have changed - the large waterwheel and launder having been (perhaps temporarily) abandoned when it became clear they were never going to be built in time for the big outing.

I tried to cover up the meniscus with vegetation but it was simply too prominent, and vegetation would not look right around the bridge piers etc. The resin sets to a rubbery state so it could not be easily scraped away - and it would probably have made it look worse. I eventually decided it needed a thin top coat. I reasoned that it had done any leaking and wicking that it was going to do, so this thin top coat should hopefully just fill the surface up to the top of the menisci. Of course I had now used up all the Magic Water.

A bit of late night internet searching showed there were several suitable clear resins - all quick setting which should enable corrective action to be taken during whilst it sets. I contacted Eli-Chem Resins UK who sold two types at a reasonable price. As a result of their helpful advice I ordered a General Purpose Clear Epoxy 350g starter kit - despite choosing their standard 5 day delivery it arrived the very next day!

I dribbled a thin coat into the middle of the leat and worked it into place with a spatula to just fill the meniscus. When it started to thicken up I carefully swept any build up away from the edges with a small coffee stirrer.

The result is much better. The top coat has set very clear with a hard glass like finish and the menisci are far less prominent. What remains can easily be hidden with some judicous planting.

(After planting - clearly it now needs a hoover)

Friday, 27 June 2014


With some helpful info and advice from my friends on the O14 Group I have made some mileposts and whistle boards. I have decided not to make gradient posts - the PLR crew knew exactly where the big hill was!

Friday, 13 June 2014

No turning back now

Well the secret of the PLR's one and only public appearance is well and truly out now (gulp!). I just hope it will live up to the publicity. There is still lots to do: complete the scenery, leat, make the rest of the quarry buildings, make the hidden track boards and fiddle yard, lighting gantry and lots of clay wagons.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Trackmaking for Chelfham

I've been helping my friend David by making some points for Chelfham. He was running out of time before it's next outing at the 7mm NGA AGM at Burton-Upon-Trent and I wasn't going to let him succumb/revert to the dreaded crazy track.

Friday, 21 February 2014

More scenery

I am progressing well with the scenery. My thoughts are if I start at the very back I can learn the techniques that work for me and hopefully I will have improved enough by the time I get to the front.  I have tried to introduce a bit of false perspective on the very back section with smaller hedges and 4mm scale cattle and gates.

I have deliberated long and hard on how to represent bracken with some areas of old dead stuff and others still growing - I have the photographic evidence if anyone doubts this. I used a base of lichen for the dead stuff with selected Scalelink fronds added in here and there, and whole Scalelink plants for the still growing plants. I possibly need to add a few more of these. I used a blowlamp to curl the tips slightly in an effort to make them more realistic. Painting was with acrylics (on grey primer) and then touched up with watercolours.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Rail Sections

A quick note about the rail sections I use. Most of my track is laid with Peco Il-115 which was the best available when I started, however I would certainly have used Karlarin code 82 had it been available. As noted a while back I recently relaid the quarry track using Micro Engineering code 55 which I think looks right on a small industrial system especially when seen alongside the mainline. The following diagram comes from my track articles hosted on the o14 group: http://www.o14group.org/2008/10/31/finescale-7mm-ng-trackwork/

Friday, 17 January 2014

Hedges (walls if you are from up Country)

Experiments continue on hedging. The basis is corrugated cardboard stuck down with a hot glue gun and then coated with a gloop made from slightly diluted PVA and lots of loo paper coloured with a big dollop of raw sienna goache (yes it looks like what one could find down a sewer but obviously without the smell). This is trowelled on with an icing knife. It stays soft and sticky for days giving plenty of time for adjustments but will eventually dry hard and strong and is very light.

The following photos were the result of a couple of hours spent adding rocks to simulate a typical moorland type granite hedge. The stones are coloured filler/PVA mix spread out to dry on foil then broken up by hand and pressed into the gloop. Static grass was added with a puffer and some scatter and foam added by hand.

I'm pleased with the stonework and from a distance the vegetation looks reasonable but the close-ups show the grass is not ideal. When it eventually dries I may clean it off a bit with a toothbrush and then apply rough grass (carpet underlay and/or plumbers hemp), bushes (a la Gravett) and static grass (properly).

I've also included a photo of the trunks under development (again a la Gravett) of some more substantial bushes which grow out of another section of hedging.

Monday, 13 January 2014

First attempts at Scenery

I have at last starting on some flora - I also have some fauna to add (a nice Christmas present from one of my daughters). This is the first time I have done any scenery for over 20 years and all those previous attempts never saw completion, so I am have to learn all over again. Rough grass is proving to be a challenge and I suspect I will need to have several throw-away attempts before I am happy with the results. Similarly with Cornish hedges. The following photos are some of the early attempts which will I think be scrapped and restarted soon.

They also show a mock-up of a wooden crane. I think I've accepted that there's no chance of me completing the intended lattice metal jib crane by October, so it will have to be a temporary wooden one (hopefully more convincing than my mock-up).