Tuesday, May 05, 2015

How I made a cattle dock with Jigstones mouldings

 Having extended the raised boards housing Beeston Market station (see How I created some storage sidings in the garage ) and reorganising the trackwork (see Progress Report 59 - pending), I decided there was now sufficient room to accommodate a representation of the cattle dock which would have been required to load and unload livestock for the Smithfield Market.

 Several years ago I acquired a set of Jigstones moulds from the UK supplier - Back2Bay6 (now regretfully no longer trading). One sunny summer's day, I set-up a picnic table in the garden and churned out a series of castings.

The principal ingredient was a small bag of Extra Rapid cement.

 As the detailing in the moulds is quite fine, I bought a bag of budgie grit to act as the aggregate for the concrete mix.

 These two ingredients were dry-mixed in a cheap mixing bowl with a ratio of one part cement to three parts sand.

Water was then slowly added to the mix and stirred .......

....... until it was the consistency of pourable double cream.

 The moulds were lined-up on the table and the mix poured in. The table was then tapped to encourage air bubbles to rise to the surface.

After 15-20 minutes, the concrete was sufficiently dry  ........

 .......... for the mouldings to be gently prised from the moulds.

.  they were then laid out on another table to fully harden.

I then stored the mouldings (sets for dressed stone and for brickwork) awaiting the day when they would be needed.

Before starting work, I positioned the mouldings against all three designs of cattle wagon which the line possesses - scratchbuit, IP Engineering and Accucraft (see Stock List) to find the ideal height. Rather than cutting-down or resting the blocks on a sub-base, I decided it would be easier to raise the trackwork.

Some off-cuts of 8mm thick exterior plywood were positioned under the track and the track screwed down.

The first course of blocks was then glued into place alongside the track using exterior PVA.

A second course of blocks was then glued on top of the first course.

To make the ramp, a couple of blocks were sawn in half diagonally using an old wood-saw,

In addition to the moulds for creating the main blocks, it's important to also buy the mould for making the small interlinking pieces - I found out the hard way when I failed to buy this mould for the brickwork sections.

The base was then left a couple of days for the PVA to fully harden-off. I realise that the dock is probably about half the width it should be, but plead modellers' licence by arguing that the rest of the dock is off-stage towards the front of the layout.

I left the blocks for a couple of days to allow the PVA to fully set, and then mixed the concrete for in-filling. This was a mix of three parts sand, one part gravel and one part cement. I made the mix quite sloppy so that it was pourable. It was then poured into the centre of the cattle dock mouldings and smoothed off with a small trowel.

 Jigstones paving slabs were glued with PVA along the edge of the dock and the surface of the wet concrete was then lightly stippled with an old paintbrush to give it some texture.
Brown, red and black cement dyes were added to the rest of the concrete mix and it was applied around the dock (see How I ballasted Beeston Market station yard). The blocks were dry-brushed with the dye-covered paintbrush to pick out the blocks.

The railings

Fourteen 85mm lengths of Peco code 200 rail were cut to form the majority of posts,. The rail was salvaged from a length of Peco SM32 track which, as you can see, had previously been used outside. It was cleaned up a little with a sanding block:

One end of each post was rounded off with a powered grinder

The posts were then marked at 15mm intervals, 5mm from the top. Five marks were made; four to indicate the positions of the railings and the lower one to indicate the depth to which the post would be embedded in the cattle dock.

2mm diameter holes were then drilled in the posts.

Five pieces of LGB code 332 rail were also cut and drilled in the same way. These 'corner' posts also had holes drilled into one side.

The posts which would support the gates for loading and unloading the cattle trucks had two additional 1mm holes drilled to take the wire for the hinges. These holes were 5mm and 48mm below the uppermost hole for the railings (these positions were determined from the positions of the uppermost and lowermost railings on the gates - see below).

1mm diameter brass rod was then soldered into each hole using a simple jig (ie a 5mm deep 1mm hole drilled into an offcut of plywood). The jig ensured the amount of rod protruding was 5mm and that the rod would be soldered upright. ........

.... well nearly upright!

 The excess was then snipped off ........

...... and the two hinge 'hangers. bent upwards with fine nosed pliers.

After carefully measuring the optimum positions on the dock for the gates for unloading the cattle trucks, 2mm diameter brass rods were cut to length (these were 168mm between each set of gates), and the rods were then soldered into the posts ........

 .... using my hefty 75watt soldering iron (and asbestos fingers!).

 The excess solder was tidied up with various needle files.

The gates

After experimenting with plasticard and discovering that making consistently spaced gates was darned difficult, I opted for a partially readymade solution.

I had to hand, some station picket fencing which I had purchased from Garden Railway Specialists (GRS)  a while ago and had not yet installed.

From each side, two gates, each with six railings, were trimmed.

I had originally thought of using these as gates in themselves, but some research on't web showed that cattle dock gates generally had horizontal fencing rails. The pointed ends of the railings were cut off, and one horizontal rail was removed with a cutting disk in a minidrill.

The remaining 'lumps' were then sanded down with a sanding attachment.

 A new vertical rail was then added, using some 3.2mm (1/8") square section Plastruct.

Diagonals were also cut from the Plastruct.

The hinges

Having previously constructed my own hinges for the engine shed doors (see How I constructed the engine shed), I decided to adopt the same approach for the gates.

3mm wide strips were marked out on a 1.2mm wide piece of 0.8mm thick brass sheet. These were then snipped into small strips using metal cutting shears.

Each piece was then carefully folded using a pair of pointed nose pliers .....

.... and then rolled around ......

...... into a loop.

I found that I could do this quite quickly after I'd shaped the first half dozen. 

 I then drilled two 1mm holes in each hinge

And soldered a piece of 1mm diameter brass rod into one of the holes. (I did try soldering rods into both holes but this proved to be too fiddly and unnecessary).

A 1mm hole was drilled into the gate railing at the appropriate position (this varied owing to the slight inconsistency in my hinge construction techniques).

 The hinge was placed in position and then pushed into place with the tip of the soldering iron. This melted it into the plastic, providing a very strong bond.

To improve the appearance of these rough and ready hinges (I'm sure those with more accomplished metal-working skills could fashion something more exquisite), I decided to add some plasticard cosmetic covers.

2.5mm wide strips of 1mm thick plasticard were cut into 15mm and 20mm lengths.

These were marked at 5mm intervals, 2mm from one end.

 Cosmetic bolt heads were snipped off the fret from Cambrian Models.

The bolt heads were then carefully glued on to the hinge plates using solvent adhesive.

The hinge covers were then superglued into place over the hinges - the longer covers at the top of the gates and the shorter ones to the bottom.


To account for any slight variation in their construction, the various railing assemblies and gates were custom-fitted to the cattle dock. Holes were drilled with masonry bits into the concrete of the cattle dock to take the posts.

 The holes sometimes needed a bit of tweaking to ensure the posts were correctly aligned and upright (the wide angle lens distorts the viewpoint - the posts to the right are upright!).

Once the railings had been loosely fitted they were double-checked.

..... from all angles......

 .... to ensure they looked right. Some final trimming will need to be done to the bottom post to tidy it up.

 The cattle wagons were then parked in the siding to ensure the gates actually did match up to the doors.

Considering I have three different types of cattle wagon, the match wasn't too bad. The station staff will have to do some sine tuning when it comes to market day!

The railings were then dismantled to go back into the workshop for finishing and painting.

Finishing and painting

The railings were given a couple of coats of grey primer from an aerosol and then two coats of white car enamel (again from an aerosol can).

Light weathering in the form of rust pockets was applied to the joints between the railings and the posts, a think wash of Burnt Sienna and Deep Red acrylics.

Simple loop latches were made by bending 25mm lengths of 1mm diameter brass rod into a U shape....

.... and then bending the ends with a pair of pointed nose pliers.

 A 1mm hole was drilled into the top of the vertical on one of each pair of gates ......

 ..... and the wire loop inserted. These were then painted black.

The hinges on each gate were also picked out in black acrylics.

The railings were then carefully positioned into the holes on the dock - a few minor adjustments to make sure the posts were vertical ......

A 2:1 mix of filler and sand was then mixed together with a small quantity of black cement dye. This was used to fill the holes around each post.

It also provided a surface for the dock......

..... and was used to fill any gaps in the Jigstones stonework.

Excess filler was wiped off the stonework with a damp sponge ....

..... and the stonework touched-up by dry-brushing with a sandstone coloured mix of acrylics.

 The railings and gates were then lightly weathered with a very light wash of black and brown cement dyes.

And a train of cattle wagons was posed in the siding for a photo-shoot.

The cattle dock has now entered service and will hopefully perform its duties at the next operating session.


Unknown said...

Your layout is looking fantastic it's great to hear you are still using my dads jigstone moulds! :-)

GE Rik said...

Steve was a great bloke - and sadly missed - not only by you and your family, I'm sure, but also by a great number of garden railway modellers like me who gained a lot of pleasure from doing business with such a nice chap.