US Style Track in S - Jameston & Lever River RR

Discussion in 'Techniques' started by JimG, 22 February 2016.

  1. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    The required wood for finishing the jetty came from Cornwall with their usual speed - next day if you order in the morning - and I got all the top planking completed.



    I am leaving the end to finish when the jetty is set in place.


    ...and it's a dead one of that. :):):) I took it outside to trim off the ends of the cross beams which would foul the scenic treatment behind the jetty.

    I now had to turn to the scenic treatment around the jetty as well as at the other end of the layout around the float transfer bridge. Mickoo's suggestion of a lock at the float transfer area got me looking at typical US lock construction and I came up with examples from the Chesapeake and Ohio canal.



    The first thing that attracted me to this was the stretcher bond using large dressed stone blocks which meant that it could be laid out fairly easily. Also, I had bought a pack of brown/pink DAS by mistake, so the use of a reddish stone is quite appropriate. :) Note also the repairs using brick courses on the second picture which gives an opportunity to add a bit of variety. :)

    The back story for the jetty area is that there was an original, stone-built jetty in place when the area was developed to cope with ore deliveries and a new wooden jetty was built in front of the old stone one. So my venture into scenic treatments will start with the face of the old stone jetty which will be mostly hidden by the wooden jetty, so mistakes and less than perfect craftsmanship will be well hidden. :)

    I have started by rolling out the DAS to be about 2mm thick and sticking it to a strip of 4mm play backing using PVA glue. I then started marking out the stone courses.

    The first markings are done using a Stanley blade, a rule and a square. I then use and old dart to open out the marked made by the blade and I do this freehand so that the lines lose a bit of the straight and square look from the blade using the square and rule. I'm also trying digging out the mortar courses just a bit deeper using the Olfa cutter.

    The next job will be to seal the DAS using matt varnish which, I hope, is winging its way to me at the moment. After that I'll do the mortar courses using Yorkshire Dave's methods and then, possibly, start a fair bit of dry brushing to weather it. If this works, then I'll start the lock construction at the other end of the layout.

  2. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I had my first go at doing the stone work yesterday. I sprayed the scribed DAS with a matt varnish then set to work with the mortar work.


    I used MIG "Light Dust" pigment and tipped a very small amount on the surface of the stones and started spreading it with a soft paint brush. You can also see the slightly glossy sheen of the matt varnished DAS and the pigment kills this gloss to an extent.


    The pigment spread on the other end of the strip.

    The next job is to fix the pigment using Pigment Fixer (which smells a lot like white spirit so I'll maybe look for a less expensive source when I need more :) ) I just painted over everything and it looked quite rough with a lot of small bubbles showing.


    But it all came right in the end. The finished result once the Fixer had dried, which looks not too bad.


    I had a go at colouring some of the stones which wasn't too successful so I'm just about to have another trial with more DAS and I'll see if colouring the stones before applying the varnish looks better. The DAS seems quite absorbent so I might get a more stone-like appearance. It also means that the mortar will be applied after the stone painting which would give neater mortar lines.

    The finish with the matte varnish and the fixer is getting closed to the look of glazed brick, which could come in handy for any Caledonian station building I do in the future.


    The matte varnish I used was the AK varnish on the right. The one on the left seems to be the choice of a lot of the military painters for giving the best matte finish. I went for the one on the right because it came in a aerosol. I might give the one on the left a try and see how matte it turns out to be.

    I also think I have made my stones too short. I think they should tend to be long and I'll go for a longer version in the next test. I've scale the stones at 16" high - indicated by the four courses of bricks used in repairs, but I think the length should be up to 36" - I've tended to a 24" - 30" maximum.

  3. Big Train James

    Big Train James Western Thunderer

    A couple of thoughts on sizing the stones:

    I would tend to think of typical brick size being 7-5/8" x 3-5/8" x 2-1/4". Three bricks + 3 mortar joints = 8". So four courses would only be about 10-1/2" in that case, rather than 16". Five courses as in the other photo would add up to a little more than 13".

    I'm not sure how deep you want to dive on this, I dont think you're trying to exactly replicate the C&O canal by any means. But an email to the C&O historical society might yield some specific information regarding canal construction.

  4. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Try lightly sanding the existing stones first to remove some of the sealant. This may be sufficient to allow some absorption of the colour washes.

    It's worth experimenting - on the Biggleswade diorama I applied the paint and washes to the DAS clay without sealant. Almost similar to the fresco-secco painting of Renaissance Italy.

    And for the Leslie Green style London Underground station buildings. Thanks for the idea - I may give this a go myself :).
  5. SimonT

    SimonT Western Thunderer

    try IPA to fix the pigment.
  6. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I researched American brick sizes when I was trying to work out building sizes from pictures and there was quite a wide range of heights back in Victorian times - much the same as in the UK. Some Victorian bricks were over three inches high and, with mortar, would have had almost a four inch vertical pitch. I used this as my calculation for this work but I do admit that something closer to 12" for the stone height might be more appropriate.

    I'm not getting too tied into the C&O - just as long as what I build is believable for the North American scene. I delve about in Shorpy to get a feel for early 20th century American architecture and there is such a wide range of styles that I suspect I could get away with anything. :)

  7. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    My next DAS trial piece has just about dried so I'll have a go on virgin DAS and see what it looks like. I'm using Vallejo acrylics for colouring - my first time using them so it's all a bit experimental. I suspect there are going to be a good few trial pieces. :) Onwards and upwards. :):)

    [Later] I forgot to try my big 30mm diameter glass fibre stick on the varnished DAS. I use it on Plastikard to take the gloss off and it should do the same on the stonework, and also round off the edges as well.

    Last edited: 13 September 2018
  8. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    I've got a litre bottle of that for general cleaning up around the machines and the desk, so there will be no problem at having a go on one of the, no doubt many, trials I will do. :) It will be interesting to see what the surface finish looks like.

  9. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    You won't be disappointed with the AK varnish in the bottle - I've had some delivered today and it is matte - one of the best I've used.

    It's all fun - this is how I started with my painting.
  10. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I had another go once my bit of DAS had dried out. The mortar lines were cut with a Stanley blade as before but this time I just opened them out a bit with the dart point.


    I then started picking out some random stones in other colours from the Vallejo "Earth Tones" selection. I tried Ochre Brown, Iraqi Sand and Ivory and I think the Ivory is just a bit too prominent. I'm going to roll out another bit of DAS and use it as a sampler for all the sixteen colours in the set to see what they look like.


    The pallet for the colours - easy to use and always at hand. :)


    For the next move, I didn't put on a coat of the matte varnish, but went ahead and applied the MIG pigment for the mortar straight on the DAS and it worked very well with the pigment also taking down the colours of the stones as well.


    I then applied the MIG pigment fixer (I'll try Simon's suggestion of IPA on my next test)


    ...and the result when it dried was this - quite a nice overall matte effect and the MIG pigment had even taken the prominent ivory coloured stones down a good bit.


    I then tried applying the AK Super Matt varnish to the right half of the piece to see the effect and you can just see the more matte effect of the varnish in the more oblique angle of the lower picture. particularly on the third and fourth row down.

    So quite a successful go this time round and I'll do a bit more experimenting with stone colours when applying random colours. I'm wondering if there would have been a great variation in stone colours since I assume that stone would have come from one or two quarries nearby, so the colour variations would be a bit limited.

    I'm also thinking about using the MIG pigments to simulate efflorescence and lichens for variation rather than stone colours.

    TimC, Spitfire2865, Dog Star and 3 others like this.
  11. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Nice effects :thumbs: - look forward to seeing more.

    Out of interest did you roll the clay with a rolling pin or similar as there is a nice subtle relief in the stones.

    Once you start applying washes to the stones this will bring out their subtle relief - a thin brown wash would be a good one to start with then you can apply as many washes as you wish to achieve the desired effect. The washes also tone down the mortar. Once dry you can lightly dry-brush with the stone colours just to hit the high points.

    Of course once you get to the water line you can then use a green wash for algae and at which point any mortar will appear black anyway.

    My usual approach is: paint stones/brickwork (including any colour variations), mortar, washes, then dry-brush - however the sequence does vary depending upon the structure and effect I'm trying to achieve.
    adrian likes this.
  12. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Rolling pin. :)


    Here's the gear with the pin showing signs of its recent use. The styrene fixture has two 80 thou strips to set the thickness and the DAS is rolled out between the strips in sheets approximately six inches long then peeled off and stuck to plywood.

    I'll go and investigate washes now. :)

    I've been thinking about something like that as well. :)

    daifly, adrian and Peter Cross like this.
  13. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    Thanks for that - it's given me a few ideas to work with, I really do like the texture on the brickwork and the colouring with the paints, powders and varnish. I've been experimenting with a few techniques to get some 2mmFS stonework that I'm happy with. It has to have a couple of distinctive styles that I can't seem to replicate with the embossed plastic offerings. With your technique I'm thinking if I bash a small wooden rolling pin/broom handle with square toffee hammer or roll it over some fine gravel I might be able replicate the textures I'm looking for. If I can get something close to what you have then I'd be happy.
  14. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    While I was waiting on DAS to set for a remake of the jetty walls, I turned to the buildings to place on this board. I had dug around on the North American photo archive site - Shorpy - and found a set of pictures of the Glazier Stove Company buildings which would suit my needs.

    ...and this picture in particular

    Shorpy Historic Picture Archive :: Glazier Stove Works: 1901 high-resolution photo

    I stole most of the main features and finished up with this for the main corner part of the buildings.


    The building is sat back a bit in this picture. It will actually be forward so that there is just clearance with the track in the bottom right hand corner. I've also lifted about nine inches of the siding to make more of a yard in front of the building. There will be another building adjacent to this one along the back of the layout which will carry on the style. And at the other end there will be this water tank - also from another of the Shorpy Glazier pictures


    ...perched half off the top of the building with a couple of posts to keep it propped up. :) It will make a difference from slabs of low relief warehouses. :)

    I also thought it might be interesting to try using the natural colour of the MDF to provide a yellow brick building as a change from the more normal red. However the only real problem with that was dealing with the burnt end of the MDF at the corner joins which I thought might be difficult to cover over. So I thought about features of some traditional Scottish industrial buildings where the quoins were of a different coloured brick - normally a red brick for the main walls and yellow brick for the quoins.

    So I made up a small sampler and tried out the idea.


    I dry-brushed the bricks with some light yellowish shades and picked out the quoins with a dark umber. A grey pigment was applied to deal with the mortar lines. The results were not too bad but I found that the MDF absorbed everything very quickly. I think I shall have another trial with the MDF varnished to see if things handle a bit better.

  15. Spitfire2865

    Spitfire2865 Western Thunderer

    What an interesting photo youve discovered. Narrow gauge rails propped up in the air for moving bits around, watertanks cantilevered off buildings like a cartoon, and everything looking like a strong breeze would knock it all down. And quite a bent brakestem on that flat.

    Your MDF building looks quite good as well.
  16. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    The Shorpy archive is excellent when you find what you want. The main problem I find is that the search facility only looks in the picture captions so trying to find something can be a bit of a lottery. I actually just go through the archive picture by picture until I hit something I want. It takes a long time. :) And I'm probably only through about a quarter of it. :)

  17. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    I probably wouldn't as I like the absorbent quality of the MDF. However, I would be interested in you results.

    The unpainted MDF with the brown quoin stones looks good though.

    I've started looking at the Shorpy archive and found time just flew by. There are a lot of interesting photographs there - so easily distracted. :)