John Brenchley

Photographs by Gavin Miller

Photograph 1

Taken from the Plymouth end of the station looking towards Launceston, this was the standard photograph taken by visitors to the real life station. Still to be completed on the model in this photograph is the single storey station building and the overall train shed roof which spanned all three tracks. These are sited just beyond the signal box. The signal box is scratch built from Ratio plastic embossed brick and slate sheets. The windows are 1mm thick glass microscope slides with bars made with thin strips cut from sticky peel-off address labels. The water column is a Langley white metal kit improved with bits of wire. The cattle pens make use of parts from the Ratio cattle dock kit. It still needs to be weathered with some lime wash as the model is set between the wars when this was the standard disinfectant. Point rodding (cosmetic) is based on the methods describes in an Association magazine article several years ago and uses Peco flat bottom track for the rodding holders, slotted with a fine saw at scale 4 inch gaps. The rods are nylon fishing line held taught as the glue sets to each rod support. The loco is a Farish 57xx rewheeled with Neil Ballantine's wheels and with replacement DG couplings. No other improvements have been made to the loco as yet.

Photograph 2

Tavistock goods shed taken from the Launceston end of the station. This was a substantial shed constructed of timber planking on a stone base. It had a small wooden office at the far end and photographs also show a brick office at the near end. This latter office was described as a late addition so I have left it off on the assumption it was built after the period of the model. What I don't know is whether it replaced an earlier office and if so, what that looked like. The model is built of thin (about 1mm) 5 ply obtained many years ago from a model aircraft shop in the UK, scribed at 1.5mm intervals. I feel nothing looks quite as good as wood for representing wood and the ply has a really fine grain to it. Although not really visible in the photograph, internal framing has been included, built using thin square wood sections. There is a small crane on the shed deck, built from a Langley kit. The white fencing is built from various size Evergreen plastic strips. The post and wire fencing is made using dolls hair for the wire, stretched taught between two nails which have been filed to a square section. Intermediate posts are 1mm square plastic section. All is fixed together with super glue. The fence is made on the workbench in sections about 20cm long, painted and then fixed to the layout in predrilled holes - those for the end nails are a tight fit so as to stretch the fence, the intermediate holes are sloppy so that the plastic posts just hang in them until the wood glue dries. Still to be modelled in this photograph is a yard crane and water tower outside the goods shed and the footbridge and station building etc behind the shed.

Photograph 3

This was taken from the River Tavy looking up towards the good yard. The Tavy is one of the fastest flowing rivers in the country so I had to find a way of representing this with small rapids and a weir. The base of the river is 6mm MDF covered with plaster swirled into ripples with a knife blade as it begins to set. This was then painted with a mix of blue and grey gloss enamel paints. For some reason, adding some enamel thinners caused these colours to tend to separate which gave a useful effect of light playing on the ripples quite by accident. Touches of very light grey were dry brushed around the rocks and elsewhere where wavelets had been formed in the plaster. The surface finish is a couple of coats of artists acrylic gloss medium which has stayed nice and shiny without any cracking or discolouring. The attempt at a silver birch tree has a trunk and branches made from twisted wire which is then coated with a brown silicon type sealant. This is squeezed from the tube, mixed with water and a drop of detergent until it is the consistency of single cream and then painted onto the trunk and branches. I don't know if all sealants are initially soluble in water but this one made by Selley's (an Australian brand?) certainly is which is great for my purposes, and washing the brush afterwards is really easy. The advantage of sealant over plaster is that it never sets hard so the branches can always be rearranged and don't crack if accidentally knocked. The trunk is painted with matt enamel paints and the foleage is from the Woodlands Scenic range as is the rest of the landscape.

Photograph 4

The approach to Tavistock from the Launceston end crosses over a the Whitchurch Downs road as it climbs up from the bridge over the river in the centre of Tavistock. The model bridge uses Peco girders sprayed with a grey car undercoat paint and then dry brushed with grime and rust. The pillars are embossed plastic with the stones individually painted and then the whole thing toned down with a dirty wash to fill the morter coarses. The hardest part to do at this end of the station was the point actuating mechanism because the toe of the first point is actually on the bridge. I use film strip tie bars and for this point, the mechanism is hidden within the hollow right hand bridge pillar. Its a bugger to get at from underneath if it needs adjusting! As with photograph 3, scenic treatment uses various materials from the Woodland Scenics range. This picture gives a good view of the photographic backdrop which I borrowed for the purposes of the photograph. These are being produced by a small one man business here in Perth and were featured in the new products section of the Railway Modeller a few months ago.