Sunday, 29 June 2014

Backdrop done

Not long after the last post, my Fastracks turnout kit and the remaining backscene arrived in the post. So, over the past two weekends I’ve been attaching the custom sky backdrop I mentioned a few posts ago.

The process is best described in this video, but in a nutshell, here’s how I did it.

I had to sand a few divots and blemishes on the backboard, hence the white marks you can see in the belowe photo. After laying the first backdrop I noticed I hadn’t got all of them, so the second module had a more aggressive preparation with the sandpaper.

I started with the left-hand module, cutting slots for backdrop to fit around the baseboard using a hobby with fresh blade.

To start the whole process off, I clamped the backdrop to the backboard, checking the fit and ensuring everything as going to fit flush.

Then, I removed the clamps on the left and raised the first 30cm or so off the backboard, separating the backing from the adhesive vinyl. I then grabbed the scissors and cut the now-separated backing away. Using a clean paint roller, the free part of the adhesive vinyl is rolled onto the backboard, while the clamps on the rest of the backdrop hold it all in place.

This is where the time spent in preparation pays off. With the first part down, the clamps were removed from the rest of the backdrop, and the remaining backdrop is rolled up to where the secured part is. The backing is peeled away from the next part, and rolled out slowly and secured to the backboard with the roller.

One module done!

This process was then repeated from the other end until all of the sky backdrops were secured.

Next, I trimmed the Haskell ‘Barinore’ backdrops and sighted them on the backdrop... 

...before adding them too.

I’ve added the foam scenery back afterwards and I’m pretty happy with the result.

A few points about adhesive vinyl backdrops
Once adhesive vinyl meets adhesive vinyl it puts its roots down and makes home. While the vinyl would lift off the timber backboard easily and allow for realignment, I discovered when laying the landscape backdrop onto the sky backdrop that you only get one run at it. Pulling it up to realign it will bring the colour off the lower backdrop. The first landscape backdrop started to ‘walk’ down the bottom of the sky backdrop, only by about 2-5mm, but enough to cause concern on how to get it back on course again.

With such a thin piece of material, trying to ‘walk’ it back onto the right trajectory can cause air bubbles as the vinyl bends. Going slowly and being patient is the key here. We got it back into the right spot, kind of, but it took about 30-45cm's to get there.

Also, adhesive vinyl backdrops don’t cover a poorly prepared surface. I used a cheap timber material for the backboard for its malleability. In parts, the pock-marking in this cheap timber shows through the adhesive vinyl. If I was going to do this again, I would spend more time and money on buying and bending a good quality plywood.

Finally, this job would have been impossible to do without the help of my brother over the last two weekends. Cheers mate, much appreciated!

Next stop, lighting.

Til then, happy modelling!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

EMRC's Thornleigh 2014 Exhibition

In recent years, the Epping Model Railway Club's exhibition held over the June long weekend has become a staple in my calendar. The quality of layouts is noticeably higher than your average exhibition, and it has the feel of being focussed more towards the modeller. This year's spread kept up the theme and the demonstrations were fantastic - especially Aaron Denning's demonstrations of weathering. It's a credit to the organisers and a good showcase of the hobby to non-railfans. Also, I quite like the Brickpit stadium as a venue; modern, clean, easy to get to, and with freight trains passing by literally on the other side of the wall!

I didn't take many photos, but the few I did grab demonstrate a few things I've been thinking about recently. I figured other modellers with better cameras than mine would provide a more comprehensive picture of the day, so my photos are mainly for reference. I've shared them here for anyone else to use in getting ideas or inspiration.

The above is from 638 Mile. In shaping the cutting on the right-hand module, I've been contemplating what an appropriate height is, mindful of the need to have a realistic transition from the view-block and road overbridge, down to the cattleyard. My piles of foam seem too high at the moment, but the completed example here was reassuring.

Mile 638 again. Nice to see a NSW railway station that isn't painted in the stone colour scheme for a change!

SDS Models' PRX. I've already ordered a pack of Southern Rail Models' PRXs in the same scheme as this before I even knew of the SDS versions. Hope SRM's are up to the same standard!

The backscene on Spicer's Creek. Gary has detailed how he installed the photo backdrop on his layout Spicer's Creek here. Reading it, I couldn't quite visualise how far off the backboard the photo backdrop eventually sat, so I hope this photo helps anyone else with a similar problem. An outstanding and highly detailed layout.

In other good news, my curved turnouts from Fastracks and my custom backdrop arrived this week. With those hurdles out of the way, I can get back to building the layout soon. At the same time, work has picked up meaning I need to travel a bit this month. Next post will be on installation of the backdrop and lighting - it might be a while off, but that's where we're headed.