Monday, April 24, 2017

How I made interiors for my coaches

Having bashed some Bachmann Jackson Sharp coaches into something vaguely resembling Leek & Manifold saloons (see How I converted Bachmann coaches into Leek & Manifold saloons ), I have been running them for a couple of years with no interiors. However, the large windows made the absence of interior detail only too apparent, and so it was inevitable that I eventually got around to making interiors. As my coaches are somewhat smaller than the L&M carriages on which they are based, I couldn't copy the interiors exactly, but I used the layout of the seating as my inspiration.
From Tramway and Railway World, July 1904
The first job was to translate the layout from the plan to the arrangement of the windows in my coaches. I decided to try and keep the size of the seating as near as possible to the originals, but reduce the spaces between them. I figured that if I used figures which were slightly under scale sitting on the seats then the differences might not be too apparent.

I felt that the wooden panelling of the interiors needed to be modelled in some way and so inner liners of 3/32" balsa were cut, using the dimensions of the windows as a guide.

I made the window apertures 1mm too large all round to ensure they were not too obtrusive. End pieces .......

..... and a centre compartment divider were also cut out from the same material, taking the dimensions from the doors and windows of the end panels of the coaches. Door frames fashioned from strips of  1/16" thick balsa.

Card templates for the double seats were made - 48 x 44mm for the seat back, 22 x 28mm for the seat, and 20 x 10 x 24mm for the seat support.

The component pieces were then cut from 3/32" thick balsa wood.

These were then assembled, the supports being fixed to the seat back first (using Superglue)  .......

The seat was then attached - making a single sided seat - or ........

...... another seat was added to the opposite side to make a double-sided seat.

This process was repeated until four double-sided and four single-sided double seats were made.

Card templates were made for the single seats (half the width of the doubles). The balsa was then cut out and made into four single-sided and four double-sided single seats.

 The seats of the L&M coaches were upholstered, even in the third class compartments, and so I thought about various ways of representing the upholstery. In the end, I simply cut pieces of 3/16" thick balsa, 1.5mm smaller all round than the seats and seat backs and chamfered the edges with sandpaper.

For armrests, sixteen 18mm long pieces of 3/32" square section balsa were cut, and a 2mm hole drilled near one end. Into the hole was inserted a 6mm long piece of cocktail stick, held in place with a dab of superglue.

The upholstery was then painted maroon with acrylic paint, to which some talcum powder had been added to matt it down.

To simulate the patterning of the fabric, I speckled the maroon pads with blue and yellow blotches - applied by flicking the paint off the bristles of a stiff brush.

The upper parts of the armrests were painted to match the upholstery .....

The seats and the 'walls' of the coaches were given a couple of coats of oak stained varnish, making sure that both sides of the balsa were varnished to avoid them curling-up as the varnish dried. The floor was painted dark brown with talcum-matted acrylic paint.

Once the varnish had dried, the seat pads and the armrests were glued into place, .......

.... and the vertical posts on the armrests were given a coat of stained varnish.

The floor was then inserted into the coach .......

...... and the walls were glued to it.

The seats were then glued into place, their backs coinciding with the window pillars as in the original L&M coaches.

The seating and the upholstery in the First Class compartment of the composite (brake end) coach was considerably more luxurious and so, once the seats had been constructed, the upholstery was fashioned from over-hardening poly-clay (Fimo).

Firstly a marble-sized lump of clay was kneaded and rolled into a ball.

This was then flattened ......

....... and shaped into a rectangle with rounded corners roughly 18mm wide.

The rectangle was then cut into a square shape (18mm x 18mm) - with a bevelled edge.

The buttoning was simulated by drilling a 1.5mm depression into the end of a piece of 4mm diameter wooden dowel and then filing some notches with a triangular file.

 This was ten pressed into the clay seat pad several times.

 The backs of the seats were made in a similar way - the rectangle being 18mm x 24mm. The dowel 'press' tool was used as a rolling-pin to create a depression in the centre of each pad .......

..... and the tool then used to create the 'padded' effect.

 The pads were then baked in the oven for half an hour at 120C.

The seat pads were then painted dark brown ......

..... and glued to the seats .........

..... and armrests made and glued into place as with the third class seats.

 The seats were then glued into the first class compartment.

Once the glue had set, the longitudinal seats for the third class compartments were measured and glued into place. As I couldn't be certain as to exactly how much room would be left for these, I decided each of these seats would be measured and fitted individually.

 These were varnished and the seat pads painted as previously, before being glued into place.

The seat pads were then glued on top.

Figures were then painted and positioned on the seats. As space was tight, I bought some under-scale (1:25) figures from China, and modified them with the addition of hats and longer dresses or skirts to help make them look more in keeping with 1930s fashions (see How I modified some cheap figures for the 1930s - pending)

BEFORE .......

.... and AFTER.

The figures were then glued into place inside the coaches.

Lighting was then added to each coach (see How I added interior lighting to my coaches - pending) - ......

....... and some decals were made and added to the outside of each coach (see How I made a crest for my railway).

And then, of course, the coaches had to be tested to check their appearance, during the day and at night!

As with most of my handiwork, the interiors don't bear close scrutiny - but they are a lot better than the empty voids which were there previously. As the coaches flash past (at a scale 18mph!), it's quite pleasing now to see faces peering out of the windows and an impression of opulence on the inside.

Monday, April 17, 2017

How I created a crest for my railway

I have always fancied the idea of having a crest for my railway company, but until now have not been sure about the procedure for creating one. I then started experimenting with Serif DrawPlus. I originally invested in the free 'Starter Edition' (which is still available on some download sites - eg CNET ( )and then decided to upgrade to the full edition (only£19.95 - ). It seems DrawPlus has now been superceded by Affinity Draw.

To begin the process, I searched the internet for an image of a railway crest which I felt could be adapted to meet my needs. I eventually homed-in on the crest for the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway.
I wanted something which could easily be cut out from a vinyl sheet and yet looked reasonably fancy.

I opened the file in Paint .......

..... and set about changing the colour scheme and removing the railway name and coat of arms. I used the fill tool to replaced the blue with green.

.... and then used the eraser tool to remove the railway name.

I then tackled the crest by firstly using the fill tool to replace the larger areas of colour with maroon......

..... and then using the eraser tool to remove the remaining lines.

Now I had the basic shape of the crest, I searched the internet for a crest which I could place in the middle of the roundel. I found the coat of arms of the Tollemache family, who built and used to own Peckforton Castle. In my imagined history of my railway, Lord Tollemache was a significant benefactor of the railway and hence I felt the railway's crest would prominently feature his family crest.
To be able to import this crest into the centre of the doctored S&DJR crest, I needed to replace the white background with maroon. This I did in Paint. In addition to using the Fill Tool, I needed to use the Pencil Tool to tidy up the edges. In hindsight, I realise now that I could have saved myself a lot of work by only filling the internal white background areas with maroon as the Cut-out Studio in DrawPlus is very accurate in defining the outer edges of the shape.

The background roundel was then opened in Serif DrawPlus. To create the circular text, I first of all drew a circle the same size as the inner part of the roundel.

I then selected circle and then clicked on the Artistic Text Tool.

 I then clicked on the circle with this tool and started typing the text for the name of my railway.

I changed the colour of the text to yellow and changed the font to Davida, using the Format Character menu .....

...... and then copied and pasted the text, changed its colour to gold ........

..... and then superimposed the yellow text on the gold to give a shadow effect. The two pieces of text were then grouped together.

I then dragged and dropped the text on to the roundel, adjusting the size of the text box and rotating it with the rotation tool until it fitted into the available space. I also used the Text Format menu to adjust the character spacing so that it fitted more appropriately.

I then imported the Tollemache coat of arms, ..........

....... and used the Cut-out Studio to select the outline of the drawing. This was achieved automatically by clicking on the maroon background.

After OK-ing this change, I then dragged the coat of arms into the centre of the roundel and adjusted its size to make it a snug fit.

I then reduced the size of the railway crest, printing it out on plain paper a few times until I got it to be the right size for fitting on to the sides of my coaches. I draw a rectangle around the crest and filled it maroon, then then copied and pasted the crest a few times.

The crests were then printed on to self adhesive vinyl sheet (available from places such as Snap Paper) and the individual crests were then carefully cut out with scissors and applied to the sides of the coaches.

I may need to apply some maroon paint to the edges of the sticker to disguise it a little more, or alternatively, I could have used decal paper or sent the crest to a commercial transfer printing company. However, as I already had some vinyl paper in stock and I am impatient, I am quite pleased with the outcome.