Saturday, November 18, 2023

Introduction to the blog


This blog describes ongoing progress in the development of a G gauge Garden Railway from its inception to the present day.    

NEW (15/10/23)

The blog has just had its millionth visitor. Many thanks to all those who have provided me with support, suggestions and feedback over the years.

When I became interested in building my own garden railway I spent a considerable amount of time (and money) on books, videos, DVDs and scouring the internet for information, ideas and inspiration. When I eventually started construction I used some of the ideas I had discovered, but also experimented with my own approaches. This blog outlines how I have gone about constructing my own garden railway. My aim is to provide the sort of information I was looking for when I was getting started and also to share what I've learned (or 'borrowed' from others). I've tried to include a few 'How I ........' postings interspersed with occasional 'Progress Reports'. I do not profess to be any kind of expert - what I offer here is an opportunity for you to metaphorically look over my shoulder to see how I have gone (and am going) about this fascinating hobby.

As this is a blog, the various posts are presented in reverse chronological order (ie the most recent first). To see a categorised list of contents go to the Blog Contents Page.

If you are thinking about building your own garden railway then why not join the 16mm Association or the G Scale Society - you'll get plenty more advice and opportunities to visit other peoples' garden railways
. Alternatively, browse through the G Scale Central website - there's plenty more guidance here and an opportunity to sound out the views of others through the G Scale Central discussion forum.

The Blog

The advantages of blogging are that it is immediate and uncomplicated when creating and uploading information. The other, of course, is that with Blogger it is free. The major disadvantage is that I have minimal control over how the postings are presented. The blogging system adds the most recent information to the start of the blog, hence the postings appear in reverse chronological order (most recent first, oldest last). Whilst there is a list of postings on the right hand side, it's not particularly easy to see what is there. This introduction is an attempt to provide you with a contents list of the postings organised into categories so, hopefully, you see if what you are looking for is presented in this blog. To ensure that it always appears at the start of the blog, I update its content and set its presentation date into the future each time I add a new posting.

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How I constructed Beeston Brewery from PVC foamboard


As you may have read elsewhere on my blog, goods traffic on the PLR is one of my priorities and so I have made sure that I have plenty of plausible lineside industries to provide reasons for loaded freight wagons to travel up and down the line.

Although, in real life, there was never a brewery in Beeston, I decided that, with the success of the railway, there would have been a strong likelihood that one would have been built alongside the railway to satisfy the thirsts of the local inhabitants. The goods siding at Beeston Castle station provided the perfect location as the building would nestle into the hedge behind the siding thereby overcoming the need to construct the further buildings which a brewery such as this would require.


As there was no actual prototype on which to base my brewery I searched the internet for brewery buildings which could be adapted to suit my location. Finding no real buildings which were suitable, I stumbled across the Metcalfe range of card models which, with some modification, I felt would be ideal.

As the site was an awkward shape, I started by making a rough structure from corrugated card and masking tape which I hacked about until it fitted the tight space between the siding and the hedge.

This was then used as the basis for the construction of the actual model.



A3 sheets of white 5mm thick PVC foamboard were purchased from

I decided to start with the tallest section of the building first. The outline of the building was drawn and then the horizontal mortar courses were drawn at 4mm intervals (3" in 16mm scale). The windows were also drawn, this making sure the base of each window coincided with a mortar course.

As the windows were arched, I used a pair of compasses to produce two concentric curves - one for the top of the window an the second, 12mm beyond it for the brick arch.

The lower curve was marked as 4mm intervals ......

..... and radiating lines were drawn for the brick arch mortar courses.

Once all the horizontal courses and window arches had been drawn, the stone quoins on the corners of the walls were marked-out either 12 or 24mm wide and 8mm deep (ie two horizontal mortar courses).

The vertical mortar course for the brickwork were pencilled-in at 12mm intervals (6mm divisions were marked across the bottom and top courses to allow for the courses to be staggered - Flemish-Bond style).

NOTE: I could have scored the horizontal courses rather than pencilling them but, from experience, I know it's so easy to make a mistake when marking-out the horizontal courses and it's easier to erase a pencil line than to correct a wrongly scored line.

Scoring and embossing the mortar courses

Although it can be tedious it can also be somewhat therapeutic scoring and embossing the mortar courses. 

The horizontal courses were scored first, by dragging a flat bladed screwdriver across the mortar course with a modicum of pressure applied.

The vertical courses were created by positioning the blade of the screwdriver on one of the divisions at an angle.....

..... and then moving the blade to a vertical position while applying downward pressure.

Once the brickwork and quoins had been embossed for the taller part of the building .......

.... the procedure was repeated for the lower section.

The various sections were then cut out.

The side walls for the loading platform were also embossed and cut out.


The walls were then glued together using thick (Tool Station High Viscosity) Superglue. I also use a superglue activator spray to speed-up the bonding process.


The lucams were tackled next. Lucams are the prominent white painted enclosed sack hoists on the outside of the building. 

The frames were made from 5mm thick PVC foamboard.

10mm wide planks were cut from 1.5mm thick plasticard.

The planks were glued to the outsides of the lucams with superglue - with 5mm wide edging strips on the corners and frames around the windows.

The planks overlapped by 4mm to give a weatherboarding effect.


The rooves were tackled next. The sub-structures for the rooves were made from 3mm thick PVC foamboard, These were tailormade by measuring the relevant spaces and cutting each part to fit.

Once the roof components were in place the tiles were formed from 20mm wide strips of 1mm thick plasticard. These were then marked at 10mm intervals for the individual slates and a further line 12mm from the lower edge was marked for the overlap.

The divisions between each slate was then snipped with a couple of cuts from a pair of scissors. Although slates fit very snugly against each other, I've found that a couple of snips are necessary to clearly demarcate the gaps between each slate. A single snip easily becomes clogged with paint and so all too easily disappears.

Once the snips had been made along the full width of the strip, it was laid on the roof - each strip being staggered to overlap the previous strip - as shown.

Occasionally, a slate was detached from the strip to give the appearance of a slipped slate.

Eventually, after painstaking snipping and gluing, the whole roof was covered in slates.


The walls were initially given a coat of red oxide primer ......

...... and then a coat of 'deep red' acrylic. Once this had dried, some cream mortar colour was smeared over, making sure it penetrated the mortar courses.

This was then wiped off while still wet in a diagonal direction to try and ensure the colour remained in the indentations.

This process was repeated across the whole of the walls.

Inevitably, there were some places where either the mortar colour didn't penetrate or the wiping process accidentally removed it ......

..... and so these areas were touched-up with more mortar colour .....

..... and the excess wiped off.

The lucams and roofs were given a couple of coats of grey primer.

And then the roofs were given a thin wash of black acrylic paint which was wiped off to leave the residue in the gaps between the tiles.

The surface of the loading platform was treated in a similar way.

The lucams were painted white and then the walls, roofs and lucams were glued together.

The canopy

The supports for the canopy were cut-out first from 3mm thick foamboard. These were 90mm along the base, 30mm at the longer end and 10mm at the narrower end.

The canopy edging was then marked-out on 3mm thick foamboard, ....

..... with divisions 5mm apart.

These were then bisected diagonally......

.... and the diagonals were cut to provide the sawtooth valance for the canopy/

The canopies were then assembled, with 3mm foamboard for their roofs.

3mm wide strips of plasticard were stuck to the upper surfaces of the rooves as battens.

And then the canopies were given a couple of coats of grey primer from a Halford's rattle can.

1.5mm diameter holes were drilled into the uprights of the supports and cocktail sticks glued into them.

The cocktail sticks were then inserted into holes drilled in the walls of the building .....

... and the canopies glued into place.

Barge boards

Barge boards were cut from 1.5mm thick plasticard, painted black and fixed into place using thick superglue.

Window frames and doors

Bespoke 3D printed window frames were bought from a chap advertising on eBay. I sent off the dimensions and received them (plus a couple of spares) within a week.

They were glued on to a sheet of 1mm thick clear acetate with UHU glue and then the glazing was cut to the right size with a sharp craft knife.

The windows were then glued into the apertures with more UHU (I avoid getting superglue anywhere near glazing as it tends to fog any nearby transparent sheets - even if it isn't actually applied to it).

Doors were cut from 1.5mm thick plasticard. They were scribed to represent planking and scored with the blade of a razor saw to provide a wood grain effect.

Cambrian Models bolt heads were glued on to simulate fastenings for the hinges .....

.... and door handles were the heads of mapping pins, inserted into 1mm diameter holes.

The doors were then given a couple of coats of Halford's grey primer from a rattle can .....

.... followed by a coat of black acrylics. They were then glued in place behind the door apertures using UHU glue.

Gutters and downspouts

Horrified by the cost of U-section brass, I discovered similar 4mm brass channel available from stained glass window suppliers for edging panes of glass (eg -

To make the end caps of the gutters, a couple of slots were sawn into the end (about 4mm deep) ......

.... which were then folded over and soldered.

Bends in the gutters were similarly made. A vee was filed into the base of the gutter ......

.... which was then folded .......

..... and soldered.

Brass nails with heads removed were then soldered to the underside of the gutters to act as support brackets.

The downspouts were made from 3mm diameter copper tube. The lower ends were filed through with a vee shaped file .......

.... then folded and soldered.

Similarly, bends in the downspouts were filed, folded .......

..... and soldered.

The brackets to hold the downspouts to the wall were made from copper wire, extracted from a length of twin and earth cable .....

hammered flat .......

..... wrapped around the pipe ......

.... and soldered.

The downspouts were then soldered into 3mm holes drilled in the bottom of the gutters.

Once all the sections of gutter and downspouts were assembled, .....

... painted black and fixed into place by drilling 2mm (for the gutter brackets) and 3mm (for the downspout brackets) holes in the walls and gluing the brackets into place with thick superglue.

Roof ridge tiles

The finishing touch was adding ridge tiles. These were made from two 10mm wide strips of 1.5mm thick plasticard glued along each side of the ridge ......

.... with 3mm wide strips of 1mm thick plasticard folded over the ridge at 12mm intervals.

The ridge tiles were then painted brick red with acrylics.


Laser-cut plywood lettering was bought from The Works bookshop, 

..... painted white and glued into place on the end wall of the building with thick superglue


The brewery was then placed in its designated position, behind the siding at Beeston Castle station ......

 ... and a few additional details were added to make it look at home


I feel the building looks quite at home in its corner of the station. There wasn't room to model any more than the main building fa├žade - we have to imagine the other buildings which would have been needed to turn this into a viable business.

I have become a great fan of PVC foamboard. It's a very versatile material which lends itself to all sorts of applications - eg see How I constructed a boiler house and water tower - How I constructed the water mill - How I constructed the Bone Mill.

The great advantage of foamboard is that any style of brickwork or stonework and be scribed on and various other finishes can readily be represented (eg half-timbered, rendered or even clapperboard). All that is required is a bit of time and effort to scribe and emboss them. With skill, hard work and imagination almost anything is possible - eg see -
Yes - this is a model - made with foamboard!

I could leave my foamboard buildings outdoors throughout the year. PVC foamboard is weather resistant and durable. However, I only bring them out for running sessions. It doesn't take long to deploy them and the advantage is that they do not require painting and maintenance quite as often than if they were outside in all weathers - this part of the UK does tend to get more than its fair share of wet weather!