Story of a Two Square Foot layout.

I decided that I would have a go at the "Two Square Foot Challenge" as put forward by our Group.  My idea is to be a new version of a competition micro-layout that my wife and I built several years ago for the " Narrow-minded" competition at Chelmsford.  The original layout was built in an area of an A3 size sheet of paper as set by the competition rules for that year.


A view of the original layout.  Inside the tunnel was a tiny two-track traverser where an engine and two small coaches or wagons could be changed round.  The track goes over an adapted viaduct and into a tiny halt where passengers joined the train, and beer and supplies delivered to the inn in the valley below.  It was a major challenge fitting-in the curve.  The 5 inch radius curve had to meet a 12 radius turnout, so there was a lot of altering the turnout curve and increasing the gauge.  The Inn is two £2.99 cast buildings bought on Great Yarmouth seafront glued together, detailed and re-painted.





As the new layout would be 288 sq inches this new version gave me a bit more space than the "A3" version. A new baseboard was made up using 6mm plywood, the same format was used for the whole idea including the two-track traverser unit.  The viaduct used is a Kibri "N" scale three-arch bridge kit with added piers.








The back scene has been undercoated and the track laid using PECO 009 Streamline Crazy track.  The small traverser is shown bottom right and the electrics fro this have been installed.  The front or rear track is made "live" automatically when it lines-up with the running line.  I have simply used electrically-fed bent rails, that touch Scalextric Braid wires when the traverser is lined up with the track.  These braids are very flexible and are easy to bend and adjust if nsessary.

I am now working on the turnout switching rods.  These will be operated from the right-hand end, cranking the points at 90 degrees using old plastic gear wheels.



The Buildings

For quickness, the intention was to buy a couple of small Skaledale buildings to put in the "valley" of the scenic area. But I wanted "Northern/Yorkshire style buildings and they are either hard to find or more importantly, too expensive anyway! So I resorted to building my own, much longer to make of course, but unique.

A pair of cottages were the first to be built. I used all Wills Coarse Stone Sheets (SSMP200) these were sanded by the way, Plain Brick for chimneys (SSMP212), Cottage Windows & Doors (SS86), Buildings Details Pack "A" for gutters and downpipes etc. (SS46), and Slate Roofing (SSMP30).  Slaters Plastiglaze for glazing.  I use a Stanley Knife with Heavy Duty Blade, Assorted Microstrip (for doors frames etc.), EMA "Plastic Weld" Styrene Adhesive, a small old brush to apply adhesive, a sharp pencil, steel rule, a small set square and a small sheet of 120 grit good quality sand paper (best stuff of all is 3M Fre-cut Paper).

The front and back Walls were cut to 119mm wide by 54mm deep.  Several light strokes with the Stanley Knife are used to start the cut, then increase pressure with several more strokes until the sheet is cut through, or it can simply be snapped off and cleaned up.

Doors and Windows were simply placed on the front and back walls until a typical cottage look is achieved.  Of course it may be better to copy the arrangement from a photo or plan of a building.  They are marked, then the apertures are cut out about 2mm smaller than the window.  To cleanly cut a window aperture the same cuts are made with the Stanley Knife increasing in pressure until a whitened line appears on the back of the sheet.  Turn the sheet over and cut down the white line as a guide, the window hole will then just snap out.


The windows and doors are glued-in behind the holes, and door frames added from thin micro-strip.  The side walls were cut-out to the required depth, mine were 60mm by 58mm (to the eaves) but a centre line was drawn vertically to get the ridge height measured and cut to 88mm by adding and glueing a piece of the sheet to get the height required (as the sheets measure only 75mm).  A feature of these Northern buildings is a raised end wall with stone slabs laid on top, and the roof set between the walls.  This leaves the end walls at the eaves 3 or 4mm higher than the front walls.  Also, a Boss Stone (I call it that, but I don't know what the technical name for this is really!) is featured supporting the raised wall.  This is cut-out as an extra shape at the height of the eaves. The angle of the roof was then cut from the top of the boss stone to the ridge.

The end walls were then glued between the front and back walls.

Off-cuts of sheets were used to strengthen the corners and end walls.  You can also see the boss stones added at the end of the eaves in this picture.  These will be thickened with another small stone from the sheets to get the aproximate correct thickness.

I hate making chimneys, but it has to be done.  Most of the chimney stacks on these buildings are made from brick, so strips of Wills brick sheets were cut to 7mm and 9mm wide, and two chimney stacks were made by making box sections with the 9mm strips glued between the 7mm ones.  The ends of the 7mm wide ones were marked with the mortar lines to match the wider sections.  Then I used some artists filler paste wiped in the mortar lines to represent to mortar


The Slate Roofing sheets were cut to size allowing a 3mm gap along the ridge where the ridge tiles will be glued.  The recesses were cut where the chimney stacks were to be mounted.  If the interior of the building is not known, they should be mounted on what would be the living room and/or bedroom walls.  It is always best to cut them slightly small, and then carve a little plastic out checking and re-checking the fit.

The roofs were then tacked-in between, but lower than the top of the gables on the end walls.

The ridge tiles are then glued on.

Then the chimney stacks are lighlty glued, mine were about eight brick courses above the ridge.




Then a number of supports (from off-cuts) were glued-in on the inside of the structure supporting the ends of the roofs and the chimney stacks, as picture.

Window sills, gutters, downpipes, drain pipes (from sinks, toilets etc.) lintels were then added. I found it was best to chamfer the edges of the lintels (with the back of the Stanley Knife) so they didn't protrude too much from the face of the wall.







Chimney pots were added from the Buliding Details pack.

The next job was to add the flashings around the chimney.  I do this with a 3mm wide strip of napkin tissue (the stiffer sort is best).  This is cut to length and then soaked in Plastic Weld solvent glue to stick it.







My own technique for painting stone or brick buildings takes nearly as long to do than building the cottage, but it's the only way I can get a satisfactory finish.


The cottage I have made will be painted in the same colours as these cottages in the photo.  They are typical of the North Yorkshire coastal and moors stone buildings.  I developed the technique after building and painting many cottages for my layout "The Whitsend Tramway".










I have always used Humbrol Enamels and can't get used to Acrylics.

First of all, the window frames are painted with thinned Satin White, then the walls are painted with five colours:

1. First, the cottage walls were painted all over with a wash of thinned Matt 28 (Camouflage Grey) Grey, this represents the mortar.

2. Then comes the primary colour.  From a distance these cottages look a sandy colour, so this is used next, an all over dry-brushed tone of Matt 94 (Brown-Yellow).  Dry-brushed in diagonal brush strokes so as not to accidentally fill the mortar lines.

3. Many stones in these buildings are a darker stone, or sometimes stained with sulphur or nitrogen oxides, or pollution.  This is more obvious and darker in industrialised towns.  So individual random stones were painted with a darker brown Matt 29  (Dark Earth) very slightly thinned.



4. Contrary to this, there are many stones with a very light grey/brown appearance, so again individual stones are painted with a light shade Matt 121 (Matt Pale Stone) very slightly thinned.

5. I then mix the Matt 121, 2:1 ratio with the Matt 29, this shade is dry-brushed all over the walls to balance the colours.


I try to end up with an effect like this.





Chimney stacks are dry brushed with Humbrol 100 Red, then a tiny amount of matt black added, with odd bricks tinted with this.

The roof is painted with an all over coat of matt grey 140, individual slates are tinted darker with a slight amount of matt black added.  Flashings are painted mid grey.

My own preference is to paint gutters, drain pipes and downpipes satin or matt grey-black (I never use pure black).  Doors and window sills are painted with matt or satin finishes in muted colours, nothing too bright or garish.

The Slaters Plastiglaze is cut to window size plus 2 or 3 mm side and lengthways then carefully glued along the edges with Plastic Weld from the back.

Then the last thing is to "weather" the building.  This varies where the building is supposed to be placed, ie: a damp valley,  What season the layout is set in may effect the colours used too.  Dry-brushing staining on the roof, and damp corners.  Mid matt green for damp mosses, brown-yellow for dry mosses, light grey for staining on roofs below the chimney etc.

Two more buildings were to be used on the layout, the first, a Pub built exactly as the pair of cottages, only with an extension at the front.

And secondly, a "Folly" bought on the internet, cast in resin stone.







The Scenery

The next stage was to start forming the scenery on the layout.

Polystyrene and a wooden block are used to get the buildings to stand at the right level.

Then strips of corrugated cardboard is used to to support the rock faces at the back.

This is eventually woven with horizontal strips for added strength.






We have then added lumps of cork bark for projecting rocks.

The rest of the rock faces will be formed by using Hydrofibre Modelling Landscape Material, so the white fibre mat (supplied in the kit) is stuck to the woven cardboard supports for the Hydrofibre to stick to.






The Hydrofibre is a kit of fibre landscape material, coloured glue and the fibre mat.

The glue and fibre is mixed together with a quantity of water, then it can be spread over the supporting fibre mat.

After it is dry, I highlight the rock face with light grey acrylic paint, dry-brushed over the rock face with Sand/Sable colour to give this effect.

I used all sorts of odd bits for stone walls, mainly Peco Model Scene Stone Walls and Buttresses (5090), some can be seen on the left of the photo.  These are easy to cut about for different angles if required, and can be painted (dry-brushed) easily.





After the addition of scenics, using Woodland Scenics Tree Armatures and Foliage, lichen and scatter materials, the rear of the layout looked like this.

Most of the walls were made from PECO Model-Scene Stone Walls and Buttresses and dry brushed with Acrylic Sand/Sable.




At the front of the layout a curved platform was made using 3mm MDF.  It is actually quite difficult to get the shape of the platform face.  An allowance always has to be made of say 8 - 10mm between the inner rail and platform face even on straight track.  But when a curved face is required an extra 2mm or thereabouts must be allowed for overhang of stock.  It does depend on what type of stock is to be run, short four-wheelers won't overhang at all.  The ends and the middle of stock on longer vehicles will mean a greater distance will be needed to clear the platform.  I get the main shape by running a water based felt tip pen along the inner rail and then lay stiff paper on top so as to give me an initial shape. This is cut out and then drawn onto the MDF.  I then allow extra margins where overhangs will be needed, then cut out the platform itself.  It was then covered card paving.

There will be a long path down to the valley floor, this was made with strips of harboard as a base, glued with wood glue.  It was at this point I realised it was going to be a         real squeeze to get this feature in, as can be seen from the photograph.


By the time the rock faces were constructed (the same method was used as the rear part of the layout) it looked like this, and just fitted-in.









A post and rail fence had to be constructed from cut-up Wills sheets and Plasticard, and this was painted with Humbrol 110 Matt Brown.

A platform fence was also added using Wills Picket Fencing (SS45).






For the station buildings (if they can be described that) I made a station shelter and a goods "shed" for Wills Clapboarding sheets (SSMP213) and Sheet Roofing (SSMP229) and added some Station Canopy Valancing (Ratio 516) along the front of the roofs.







I then added some goods items near the goods shed, a seat in the shelter, adverts, a platform lamp, small station nameboard and some figures (by Langley).







At the loco siding I added a water tower ( a Stenning kit, I think) and a coal staithe from a cut-down Wills Coal Bunker.










The layout was now just about done.


I may add the odd figure and one or two animals and birds.







Hunslet 0-4-0 "Lloyd"  and passenger train crossing the viaduct.









Hunslet "Lloyd" shunting by the goods shed.








Modified Decauville 0-4-0 loco "Llew" with mixed train on the viaduct.









"Lloyd" and passenger train passing the loco siding.