Time to get the mortar in – last mention, honest…

Spent a couple of days rendering the main part of the dam.

It’s actually ended up looking a shade or two paler than the bridge abutments which I was on the point of remedying until I did comparison between the two structures.

I used a different method of producing the granite blocks on the dam, inscribing the joints and blocks. This produced a surface which has slightly smaller blocks and less relief.

Now placing the two elements in position, the dam seems to be further away. The treatment has induced some false, but effective perception of depth which I am very pleased with.

Further weathering will take place when the model is in situ
Further weathering will take place when the model is in situ

I’ve also brushed a suggestion of moss and algae onto the appropriate sections of the wall. It’s subtle and effective, although not evident in the image.

I have also learned that it’s hard to mess up rendering and weathering structures. It’s almost impossible to overdo it. Stuff that looks a bit much in wet paint usually tones back as it dries, and besides, if you think it really is a bit much it’s easy to cut it back with a couple of dry brushes.

There are now a couple of iron fittings and a grating which remain to be rustified. I might also fit a couple of retaining ties on the slightly dodgier bits of the wall.

So I’m now able to set the structure into the landscape and concentrate on laying track across the bridge.

Roll on…

Time to get the mortar in – II

Yesterday’s efforts weren’t as effective as I would have hoped.

The blocking and embossing techniques are good at establishing the texture of a stone wall, but so far, all I’ve tried has knocked all the effort back into blandness, only a step up from using embossed plastic card.

So, for the next step, I’ve taken some time over making up a dilute wash of a vaguely cement/mortar type colour. The thing is, you can be too careful. At first the mix was far too dilute, and for me the correct mix seemed to be just past the point when you start thinking, “This must be too thick.” In fact in the end I went even further.

To apply the mortar I arranged surfaces to be treated as close to the horizontal plane as practicable. At first I used an ingenious combination of third-hands and a digital level to set the plane. But let me tell you. Don’t waste your time. If it looks close to, it’ll be okay.

Dropper and Dopper - see what I did there?
Dropper and Dopper – see what I did there?

So, here is the first pass. I used a dropper bottle, available from your recycling bin or local craft store, to dribble my acrylic mortar slurry – in this case, a slightly green tinged beige suggesting moss and algae for this location by a Dartmoor river/stream/leat – and after seeing how it was drying out, dopped off any excess with a stencil sponge. Is “dopped” a word? I think you know what I mean.

Already showing more character, even if it's looking like a new wall although the
Already showing more character, even if it’s looking like a new wall although the “mortar” drops back as it dries

Once that rendering was dry, I dropped a slightly thinner black wash to give a little more relief. Once again, areas which took too much paint were adjusted with the sponge dopper

Close to good... finishing will be done on the layout with other landscape features rendered in
Close to good… finishing will be done on the layout with other landscape features rendered in

The effect is far more evident to the naked eye, and will get a little more apparent upon receiving its final fine matte coat in situ.

So, the next step is the entire Boltorr dam wall itself. I learnt a lot from the smaller bridge abutments, so hopefully I’ll get this done quite quickly.

Before the structure is set in stone, as it were, I want to fix a couple of features, some iron rings, and possibly, where my masonry looks a bit suspect, a couple of ties, all nice and rusty and streaking down the wall.

I also need to get the roof of the brick arches correctly coloured before I forget!

Materials used: foam board, DAS Clay, PVA glue, heat glue, UHU cement, cheap acrylics and paint samples, Woodland Scenics Earth Colors Kit C1215, various cheap brushes and sponges, clay roller.

Time to get the mortar in

Having got so far, either by applying or engraving a million granite blocks to the the dam and rail bridge abutments, I’m now attempting to get a suggestion of the mortar in between the blocks to increase the perception and depth of a huge granite wall.

Well, I spent a bit of time on this today, but to no avail, except the surface has dulled down nicely. By far the best relief has been effected by stippling quite a dark grey over the block, letting it dry a bit then dabbing a mix of paler grey and white over, letting that almost dry, then stippling again to blend the shades.

None of that helped render the mortar boundaries. So I’m going to have to think about that again. I did try shaving some black and white pastels onto the surface, then dry brushing the particles in. This has been more effective in the image than in reality. You can see some of the white pastel particles on one side of the wall before they were brushed in.

Further treatment of the wall has taken off the sheen
Further treatment of the wall has taken off the sheen

I’m thinking that the only way will be, setting one surface plane at a time perfectly horizontal and applying a mortar coloured wash and letting it dry before moving onto the next wall surface.

We’ll see…

These are the books what I have read…

A bibliography, which has inspired me, but in no particular order. They’re all good:


    The Princetown Branch

    The Princetown Branch

    The Princetown Branch
    Anthony R. Kingdom
    Oxford Publishing Company – 1979 – isbn 86093 004 1
    I found this one on eBay from a bookseller in Vancouver


    Panoramic Dartmoor
    Panoramic Dartmoor

    Panoramic Dartmoor
    Adrian Oakes
    Halsgrove – 2010 – isbn 978 0 85704 039 8
    If you need an inspirational vista…


    Impermanent Ways - 4
    Impermanent Ways – 4

    Impermanent Ways – The Closed Lines of Devon – v4 Devon
    Amyas Crump
    Noodle Books – 2012 – isbn 978 1 9064 19 76 9


    Impermanent Ways - 6
    Impermanent Ways – 6

    Impermanent Ways – The Closed Lines of Devon – v6 Cornwall and West Devon
    Amyas Crump
    Noodle Books – 2013 – isbn 978 1 9064 19 99 8


    Backtracking Around Friary, Laira and the Plym
    Backtracking Around Friary, Laira and the Plym

    Backtracking Around Friary, Laira and the Plym
    Bernard Mills
    Pen & Ink Publishing – 2013 – isbn 978 0 9569858 4 2


    Backtracking Around Millbay, Saltash & the Tamar
    Backtracking Around Millbay, Saltash & the Tamar

    Backtracking Around Millbay, Saltash & the Tamar
    Bernard Mills
    Pen & Ink Publishing – 2016 – isbn 978 0 9934818 3 9
    A new volume covering from Tavistock junction and up the Plym valley, is due in 2018. Let’s hope.


    Creating a Backscene
    Creating a Backscene

    Creating a Backscene
    Paul Bambrick & John Ellis-Cockell
    Ian Allen Publishing – 2016 – isbn 978 0 7110 3842 4


    Creating Cameo Layouts
    Creating Cameo Layouts

    Creating Cameo Layouts
    Iain Rice
    Wild Swan Books – 2016 – isbn 978 0 953877 17 1
    This, along with the tiny layouts of Chris Nevard, is a huge influence


    Modelling Grassland and Landscape Detailing
    Modelling Grassland and Landscape Detailing

    Modelling Grassland and Landscape Detailing
    Gordon Gravett
    Wild Swan Books – 2013 – 978 1 908763 06 8
    Gordon Gravett has two more books on this imprint, “Modelling Trees…”, pt1 – broadleaf, and, pt2 – conifers. The best

I’ve also found Model Rail’sIdeas for Layouts – 2017” – Bauer Media, UK, to be very useful

Boltorr Dam – The Next Step…

Okaaayyyyyyy… So it’s taken me a long time. But how long do you think it takes to build a dam?

Well, the structural components are all stoned up. I sprayed it all to get a uniform base to start with. The can was labeled as “Matt”, but obviously “matt” means something different here in the US.

It looks alright, but like a wet wall after a downpour, at the moment. But it’s going to work. I have texturing, weathering and adapting it into the landscape to do yet. So there’s time to sort it out.

The basic elements
The basic elements

I’ve checked the basic fit and alignment on the layout and it’s looking pretty good from any angle.

Looking up the leat, to Boltorr dam
Looking up the leat, to Boltorr dam

And if you were a rambler, having wandered down to the Boltorr Brook, you could look back and see this view of the dam, under the rail bridge.

A long way up - if you're an inch tall
A long way up – if you’re an inch tall

My next step is to get some mortar, a couple of iron eyes and fittings to add to the interest, possibly some plant life in the crevices, then finally fix it so I can lay track over the bridge.

Crossing the abyss...
Crossing the abyss…