Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Story of a Plank - Part 2: Foundations

Work has begun on ‘the plank’ – I need a name for this project. The first basic step is to lay out the positions of the road and railway. For the road I’m using a roll of cork sheet cut to the required shape; I’ll also be using this ubiquitous product for the railway track bed. Using cork mat for the railway is a popular technique, but I’m a huge fan of using it for roads too, for the following reasons:

The surface is textured, making a realistic base upon which to work.
It is easily cut to shape; ideal for any road layout that is required – bends and junctions are no problem.
It gives depth to the road, so holes may be cut into it to allow manholes, drains, roadworks etc to be easily recreated.
The mat is available in several thicknesses, and in sheets of 6sq foot – a good workable size.
It is cheap – my holy grail.

Cork mat used to be widely available at shows, but sadly these days many retailers only take along piles of Hornby & Bachmann stock, because it is seen as the sexy side of modelling. They then leave the boring mundane modelling stuff (the essentials, in other words) behind. Try getting ballast, fishplates, paint, glue or buffers at most shows, and generally you’ll struggle. But if you want a Hornby class 60, you’ll be faced with every other stand offering them in 18 different liveries. I got all my cork mat from Modellers Mate, who specialise in the unglamorous stuff – but they have just about everything a serious modeller who actually builds things could ever want.

For ‘Plank’ I’m using 1/16 inch thick mat. The first step was to draw the outline of the road and lay-by onto the surface, followed by a guide of where the track would go. As always, there’s never quite as much space as you thought you had! For this reason, I’m scaling down from double track to single track; otherwise the scenic break between road and railway will be too compressed.

With everything marked out, the cork was cut to shape and everything laid out as I plan it – road vehicles and a train were positioned so as to see how everything will fit into place – and here we are:

The strip of cork along the front of the board represents the edge of the main road, with the lay-by set back as in the photos from the A1 on Monday. The rectangle behind the coach is the base for the café, which will be based on the portacabin design. The single-track railway will be positioned behind this along the backscene.

So far, so good. To be continued …

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