Tag Archives: rail bridge

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…

Next? The Fjords…

I’ve spent a little time working out how to fit the Boltorr Dam and river bridge together.

In fact, it should not be as difficult as I first thought the problem might be.

Drone view of the realigned dam edifice. A couple of retaining walls should sort the topography out.
Drone view of the realigned dam edifice. A couple of retaining walls should sort the topography out.
Looking upstream with the new, more adequate retaining walls. Partially treated, but I'll wait until the whole structure is in place before final rendering and weathering
Looking upstream with the new, more adequate retaining walls. Partially treated, but I’ll wait until the whole structure is in place before final rendering and weathering

By moving the dam southwards; ie, toward the right, I can get a reasonably realistic looking watercourse for the Boltorr Brook, and, hopefully, maintain a realistic lie of the land into the river valley.

With respect to the bridge abutments I’ve increased the size of the retaining wall on the viewing side of the line. My next task is to firmly position the dam, establish the contours of the land and the embankment, then build connecting retaining walls, render and then finish the effect in situ so that there is a unified overall effect.

Another consideration is the profile of the rear scenic break as the slopes roll off the tor towards the river valley.

Easy, huh?

I’ll go through construction of the opposing abutment in the next posting.

Plus ça change

plo͞o sä ˈSHônZH

Well, I had this vision.

The branch vaulting the Boltorr Brook with the dam looming behind. And, you know, from some angles the view is actually quite impressive, but in reality jamming everything in is an issue.

Theview under the crossing towards the dam, looks plausible, but, I’m working on the principle of squeezing the illusion of as much space from an 8ft x 2ft plan as possible.

Looking under the Boltorr Brook crossing towards the Boltorr dam. It looks plausible from this viewpoint, but...
Looking under the river crossing towards the Boltorr dam. It looks plausible from this viewpoint, but…
Can the river emerge from under a bridge, Cadover style. There's a degree of elevation to overcome, but a couple of rocky pools and a "rapids" might do it...
Can the river emerge from under a bridge, Cadover style. There’s a degree of elevation to overcome, but a couple of rocky pools and a “rapids” might do it…

The prime aim of this layout is to look as if it really could have happened. The problem isn’t really the perspective from under the bridge towards the dam, which, though I say so myself looks pretty good, but being able to fit some realistic looking waterworks in between the bridge and the dam.

I think it can be done, but I might have to re-align the dam or think of some other way of making a scenic break. And the other question is, would there really be a rail embankment and bridge just a few yards downstream from a dam? Probably not.

From a bird's eye view, the real estate is very tight
From a bird’s eye view, the real estate is very tight
Imagine a railway crossing just downstream from here - Cadover Bridge : SX 554 646
Imagine a railway crossing just downstream from here – Cadover Bridge : SX 554 646

It’s pretty lucky that this is a figment of my imagination… or rather, another universe, so it’s pretty much up to me what to do next.

I think I’m going to have a retink about the positioning of the dam and see if it can be fitted in. It was a lot of work, after all. And I learnt that carving out every individual stone isn’t as good as placing them individually. It’s possibly quicker, but doesn’t look the same at all. Just look at the bridge abutments compared to the dam walls.

In the meantime I need to get on with the rail bridge piers. The retaining buttresses towards the front of the layout are now pretty much sorted. I’ve made them bigger than the last time they appeared so it looks as if they’re actually holding something back. I also need to sort out what happens between the bridge and the back of the layout.