Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Water Works

I've been dreading adding the water to Flemish Quay. Over the years I've tried most of the common techniques and never been happy with the results.

After an experiment on behalf of one of my nephews in producing 2mm scale fish - a task successfully accomplished using the foil from packets of blood-pressure tablets - I found myself with a spare bottle of Deluxe Materials Aqua Magic.  It is seriously expensive stuff, but rather than waste it, I thought I would use it on this project. I was also quite impressed with a demo I'd seen using the Woodland Scenics Aqua Tints - again not cheap but I thought I might as well experiment.

So how did it go?

Well, my first two attempts were a bit of a failure.

They looked good when first poured, and using Frog Tape I didn't get as much leakage as expected around the baseboard edge. Over time though both pours seemed to dry to a much thinner layer. I suspect there were more gaps between the two layers of foam baseboard than I realised, despite having sealed them first. Much more of a problem was that having looked fine six hours after the first pour when I came back in the studio, next morning, it had pooled in some places and climbed up the walls in others. I think a number of factors were at work, the temperature in the studio, surface tension, and that the channels I was pouring it into were of very different widths.

Yesterday's attempt seems much more successful. Partly because any gap between the foam layers is well and truly sealed, but also because I did it at a much higher temperature. I have a couple of bits to iron out with a final thin layer but it is getting there. Like so much on this project though it has been a useful learning exercise.

Friday, 21 January 2022

The Warehouse


Along with the forge Flemish Quay has been built around the ubiquitous Petite Properties Harper's Yard. At the same time it has also been my intention to try and disguise that fact as much as possible, simply because it IS so ubiquitous that it has become a cliche. In building it I've also had one of my favourite warehouses from Purflet Quay in mind.

The perils of relying on modern photos -
 I've now discovered that some of the "period" detail on the building is quite modern,
possibly even added for film work

I did consider building it as a mirror image, but it works better as a scenic block built as intended. The major changes I have made are adding extra height to the ground-floor. Unfortunatly I had to do that quite late in the day, after my plan A failed and I'd already used expensive Redutex brickwork that I didn't want to waste. That has left me with a join to hide, but I have ideas for disguising it. I've also blanked off some doors and windows, which in any case wouldn't have made sense in the location on the quay. The AnyScale resin shed plonked in front of it also keeps the train out of view for just that little bit longer.

It is very much still a WIP and there are lots of things I will change. For instance using the precut parts with the thicker brick material looks a little odd. I'm also biting the bullet and investing in Modelu guttering and downpipes. I also need to consider weathering, which is such a feature of the building in Kings Lynn.

Looking at the photos you'll see I'm beginning to slowly add more groundwork. Evident in the top photo is the new to me Tamyia Grass Texture diorama "paint". I haven't made my mind up about this  yet, or their "mud". It doesn't help that they are both very expensive products.I'm also continuing to slowly work up the forge to resemble the real thing.

In the great ledger of modelling this is proving to be a useful learning exercise. I'm glad now I've done this before moving on to Grundy's Yard, which I now feel a lot more confident about.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

That Awkward Stage

There is a point in building most of my layouts where I despair. Flemish Quay has hit that point. Fortunately, having been here so many times before, I know to press on.


I'm at the stage where the landscape is blocked out and the buildings are half-finished, and it all looks a mess, not least because it looks like a lot of separate things, randomly assembled.

Which, in a way, it is.

I'm dependent now on two things. One is the scenic elements missing from the photos, particularly the walls, fencing and vegetation, as well as the chain bridge itself. The other is the lack of a unifying and blended palette of colours. Particularly glaring arethe ballast, which will become a dark brown gray, the coping stones on the harbour wall, and the "water" which will be an olive brown colour. I have also been quite cruel to the layout by taking these photos with the help of a ring light. That is deliberate, because it really highlights discrepencies.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

A load of Cobbles

Or, more accurately, setts.

I'm increasingly aware that I'm using Flemish Quay to try out ideas for an eventual Kings Lynn/Great Yarmouth based layout. So one of the things I wanted to try out was replicating the cobbles on King Lynn's Purfleet Quay.

Being observant people you will have instantly noticed that there are actually two different types of sett laid next to each other.  I didn't, which explains why I got very frustrated trying to match photos.  Incidentally, I've also since found out these are a relatively modern feature.

My original plan was to use Intentio cobbles, but I decided to play safe and go with Redutex setts. Out of the packet, on the righthand side, these are an acceptable grey colour. You might quibble about the light mortar, but a dark wash would sort that out.

On my left is my first attempt at matching the prototype, whilst also making them look a little less cared for. Essentially it is various shades of cheap purple and brown acrylics applied with makeup sponges, then unified with a black wash. Before the wash was applied it looked somewhat startling. Once in place I'll apply some sandy washes to tone it down even more, and pick out the drain covers in a darker colour.

Monday, 10 January 2022


Work on Flemish Quay has been subject to a little delay. We had the big family "Xmas" over the New Year which kept me tied to the kitchen as head chef and bottlewasher, and then it was back to the day job.

A break does give you a chance to review progress, so I've decided to change one or two things and add some extra detailing that I wasn't initially planning on since I wanted to keep costs down. The big driver has been trying to maintain a consistent palette of both colours and textures, based on those of the Hornby building. So even more Redutex sheets are being utilised. 

I made some major miscalculations about the height and location of the Petite Properties Harpers Yard building. So that means major additions to both the structure and the foam baseboard.  Overall I think this has actually led to visual improvement as well. The origin of the building is less obvious and it does a better job of disguising an awkward corner. 

I've also begun some remedial cosmetic work on the forge itself. It isn't a bad model, but there is a lot of unpainted brickwork on it around things like the drainpipes, the mortar courses are bright yellow resin, and the roof tiles are far too uniform.  Oddly the yellow mortar is less obvious than you would think. 

What I have discovered is why they have printed the windows white, rather than the brown of the prototype. As soon as you paint them the thick resin interior suddenly becomes very obvious

Having mentioned Petite Properties it is worth calling out some of the other suppliers I've used, especially the ones that have provided a great service over the holiday break. 

ScaleModelScenery are a great source of low-cost details, especially where they are background items, like bicycles. 

Modelu are the source of the very few figures that will appear on the layout. If I didn't happen to have a supply of parts in stock I would have also used them for a lot of architectural details.

Anyscale is a less well-known supplier with some useful and cheap resin cast details, though you do need to to choose carefully from the range.

Then there is my local model shop, Masons Models in Spalding who are my supplier of stripwood and paints. It is a good all-round model shop, and I always feel guilty that my modelling interests are too specialist to make more use of them.

Rails of Sheffield have proven to be a fast and reliable source of Redutex sheets. I'd more or less given up on this range, partly because of supply challenges, partly because I find them just a little too thick. 

Finally, there are NGTrains/EDM Models who are my source for blue manual point "motors".

Now since Flemish Quay doesn't involve any paintwork, why would I need point controllers ;-)